Skip to main content

Full text of "The story of Omaha from the pioneer days to the present time"

See other formats


DATE DUE 



JAN, 1(1.1990 
















NOV. 1 6.1990 









Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 
Brigham Young University-Idaho 



http://archive.org/details/storyofomahafromOOsore 



71 572 358 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



From 



The Pioneer DaysToThe PresentTime 



By ALFRED SORENSON 

A Resident of Omaha since 1871 . , 



History is the essence of innumerable biographies. — Carlyle. 



Illustrated 

The Third Edition 

Revised, Rearranged and Enlarged 



OMAHA 

Printed by the National Printing Company 

1923 



• • • * •. 



COPYRIGHT 1923 
BY ALFRED SORENSON 



THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO MY WIFE, 

MARY BROWN SORENSON, 

DAUGHTER OF WILLIAM D. BROWN, PIONEER 
FERRYMAN, ORIGINAL FOUNDER OF OMAHA, 
AND WHO OWNED TWO-EIGHTHS OF THE 
TOWN-SITE. 



S1M 



CONTENTS 

Chapter Page 

I. Discovery of Nebraska 1 

II. The Indians 10 

III. The Mormons 20 

IV. Florence 3 

V. Beilevue 3 4 

VI. Pioneers of Omaha 42 

VII. Birth of Nebraska and Omaha 48 

VIII. First Incidents 58 

IX. The Arrow 6 4 

X. Omaha's Progress 70 

XI. Omaha Wins the Capital Prize 78 

XII. The First Murder Case 92 

XIII. Capital Removal Schemes 97 

XIV. Last Round in the Capital Removal Fight 103 

XV. Doings of the Claim Club 113 

XVI. Pioneer Justice 132 

XVII. First Legal Executions 143 

XVIII. Some Notable Crimes of Early Times 151 

XIX. The Question of Slavery 159 

XX. Old-Time Political Campaigns 168 

XXI. The Gold Discovery in Colorado 180 

XXII. A Man of Mystery 189 

XXIII. Pioneer School Days 19 5 

XXIV. Pioneer Churches and Churchmen 201 

XXV. Hotels of Early Omaha 224 

XXVI. Early Amusements 240 

XXVII. Omaha from 1856 to 1866 251 

XXVIII. The Era of Steamboating and Staging 258 

XXIX. Advent o.f the Telegraph 269 

XXX. Building of the Union Pacific 275 

XXXI. The Union Pacific Bridge 307 

XXXII. Durant, Train and Ames 314 

XXXIII. First Union Pacific Train Robbery 32 8 

XXXIV. Pioneer Bench and Bar 338 

XXXV. Omaha's Old-Time Doctors 391 

XXXVI. Real Estate Men of the Pioneer Period 402 

XXXVII. Early Military History 415 

XXXVIII. The Omaha Press 429 

XXXIX. In the Days of Canada Bill 460 

XL. A Wide-Open Town 471 

XLI. Farnam and Sixteenth Streets 484 

XLII. Financial Institutions 490 

XLIII. Old Settlers 533 

XLIV. South Omaha 600 

XLV. The Omaha of Today 612 

Chronological Table 649 

Index 6 5 



Illustrations 



Page 

Origen D. Richardson 342 

General Silas A. Strickland 344 

David D. Belden 346 

Andrew Jackson Hanscom ....349 

Experience P^stabrook 351 

James M. Woolworth 353 

Clinton Briggs 356 

Chief Justice Augustus Hall... 357 

Eleazer Wakeley 359 

John I. Redick 360 

George B. Lake 362 

George W. Doane 362 

B. E. B. Kennedy 363 

Charles H. Brown 364 

James W. Savage 365 

General Charles F. Manderson 366 

John D. Howe . . . 367 

John C. Cowin 368 

William J. Connell 370 

John Lee Webster 371 

Judge Elmer S. Dundy 377 

John M. Thurston 378 

Charles J. Greene 379 

Champion S. Chase 380 

Judge James Neville 381 

Benjamin S. Baker 383 

John N. Baldwin 385 

William F. Gurley 388 

James Porter Peck 393 

Jetur R. Conkling 395 

Victor H. Coffman 397 

Samuel D. Mercer 398 

James H. Peabody 399 

H. P. Jensen 400 

Byron Reed 402 

George P. Bemis 405 

George N. Hicks 407 

C. E. Mayne 408 

W. G. Albright 411 

Samuel E. Rogers 412 

O. F. Davis 412 

John L. McCague 413 

St. A. D. Balcombe 431 

Dr. George L. Miller 434 

Lyman Richardson 434 

Edward Rosewater 436 

The Rosewater-Balcombe street 

fight 439 

Victor Rosewater 441 

B. Brewer 442 

T. W. McCullough 442 

Harvey E. Newbranch 443 

W. R. Watson 443 

G. M. Hitchcock 444 

Val J. Peter 446 

George A. Joslyn 449 

H. H. Fish 450 

Nelson T. Thorson 454 

John Rosicky 455 

Sophus F. Neble 456 

A trio of old-time newspaper 

reporters — I. W. Miner, 



Page 

Alfred Sorenson, and W. L. 

Visscher 459 

Jack Morrow 476 

View of Farnam street, look- 
ing west from Fifteenth, 

1872 485 

James M. Pattee 488 

The monument that Mr. Jones 

desired 490 

Omaha city scrip, issued in 

early territorial days ....493 

A. U. Wyman 494 

Western Exchange building. .. 496 

Charles W. Hamilton 496 

John L. Kennedy 497 

Milton T. Barlow 497 

S. S. Caldwell 498 

Victor B. Caldwell 499 

First National bank building, 

1863 500 

Herman Kountze 502 

Charles T. Kountze 503 

P'rederick H. Davis 504 

First National bank building. 

1917 504 

First home of Omaha National 

bank, 1866 505 

Ezra Mi\lard 505 

Joseph H. Millard 506 

Walter W. Head 507 

Omaha National bank building 

of today 508 

Frank Murphy 510 

Frank T. Hamilton 510 

Merchants National bank build- 
ing 511 

Ben B. Wood 511 

Luther Drake 511 

Henry W. Yates 513 

F. W. Clarke 514 

R. C. Peters 515 

Bank of Florence building ....518 

Bascom H. Robison 519 

Robert L. Robison 521 

W. R. Adair 526 

View of Douglas street, west 
from Fifteenth, taken in 

1867 534 

Northwest corner of Farnam 
and Thirteenth streets, 

1866 534 

Northwest corner of Douglas 
and Thirteenth streets in 

1870 536 

Douglas and Fifteenth streets 

in 1871 536 

Northwest section of Omaha in 

1878 538 

Missouri river flood in 1881... 538 

William D. Brown 540 

Dr. Enos Lowe 542 

Jesse Lowe 545 



Illustrations 



Page 

Fred B. Lowe 546 

Alvin Saunders 548 

Charles L. Saunders 550 

William A. Paxton 552 

Benjamin Gallagher 554 

Charles H. Pickens 555 

Charles H. Guiou 556 

Arthur P. Guiou 557 

Corner of Harney and Four- 
teenth streets in 1870 557 

Frank B. Johnson 558 

J. J. Brown 560 

Randall K. Brown 561 

Milton Rogers 562 

Jonas L. Brandeis 564 

George Brandeis 566 

W. J. Broatch 567 

Mr. and Mrs. John Rush 569 

Howard Kennedy 570 

William F. Sweesy 572 

George W. Holdrege 573 

Vincent Burkley 574 

John A. McShane 576 

Edward E. Howell 578 

Edward W. Nash 579 

Louis C. Nash 581 

John A. Creighton 582 

M. E. Smith 583 

Arthur Crittenden Smith 584 

George E. Barker 585 

J. M. Thayer 586 

C. J. Westerdall 587 

P^rank Watson Fogg 587 

Omaha's first court house.... 588 
T. J. Beard 589 



Page 

Millard M. Robertson 590 

A. Hospe 591 

W. A. Rourke 592 

James G. Megeath 593 

James A. C. Kennedy 594 

Julius Meyer's Indian Wigwam 596 

Andrew Murphy 597 

Louis H. Korty 598 

Everett Buckingham 609 

James C. Dahlman 613 

Harry B. Zimman 615 

Dan B. Butler 616 

Henry W. Dunn 618 

Michael Dempsey 619 

Joseph B. Hummel 620 

John H. Hopkins 621 

Charles A. Salter 623 

James I. Woodard 624 

Charles E. Black 625 

Post office and United States 

court house 626 

Solon L. Wiley 628 

R. B. Howell 630 

Omaha's first street car 631 

W. A. Smith 633 

J. E. Davidson 635 

Central high school building. . 637 

Gus Renze 639 

Charles R. Gardner 640 

Gurdon W. Wattles 642 

Douglas county court house... 646 

J. C. Root 648 

Woodmen Building 648 

W. A. Fraser 649 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



CHAPTER I 



DISCOVERY OF NEBRASKA 



EXPEDITION OF CORONADO FROM MEXICO JUDGE SAVAGES RE- 
SEARCHES THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE LEWIS AND CLARK'S 

EXPEDITION EXTRACTS FROM THEIR JOURNAL THE OMA- 
HA PLATEAU OLD FORTIFICATIONS SOME HISTORICAL IN- 
QUIRIES. 

The first white man to set foot upon the territory now 
included within the boundaries of Nebraska was in all proba- 
bility a Spanish cavalier named Coronado. His romantic and 
adventurous career is related in an interesting manner by the 
late Judge J. W. Savage in a sketch read before the Nebraska 
State Historical society, April 16, 1880. It is from this chapter 
of history, so carefully prepared by Judge Savage, that we 
learn that Coronado was born in the city of Salamanca. He 
belonged to an eminent and wealthy Spanish family, and was 
given a good education. In his early manhood Coronado 
crossed the ocean to Mexico in quest of adventure. Early in 
the spring of 1540 he organized an expedition, composed of 
300 Spanish and 800 natives, for the purpose of exploring the 
vast extent of country to the north. With this expedition Cor- 
onado marched from the City of Mexico to the valley of the 
Platte in Nebraska, then an unknown region. In his essay 
Judge Savage presents in detail his reasons — supported by his- 
torical documentary evidence — for believing that "fourscore 
years before the Pilgrims landed on the venerable shores of 
Massachusetts; sixty-eight years before Hudson discovered 

CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY 

^AnrKl I IT A Ul 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 

the ancient and beautiful river which still bears his name; 
sixty-six years before John Smith, with his cockney colonists, 
sailed up a summer stream which they named after James the 
First of England, and commenced the settlement of what was 
afterwards to be Virginia; twenty-three years before Shake- 
speare was born ; when Queen Elizabeth was a little girl ; and 
Charles the Fifth sat upon the united throne of Germany and 
Spain, Nebraska was discovered ; the peculiarities of her soil 
and climate noted, her fruits and productions described, and 
her inhabitants and animals depicted" by Coronado. 

"There is hardly any expedition of modern times," says 
Judge Savage, in referring to Coronado's exploration, "around 
which hangs so much of the glamour of romantic mystery as 
that undertaken about the middle of the sixteenth century for 
the purpose of discovering the seven cities of Cibola and 
the land of Ouivera." It is maintained by Judge Savage, who 
is borne out by his researches, that the land of Quivera was 
situated in what is now the state of Nebraska. It was in the 
month of July, 1541, that Coronado crossed the southern 
boundary of Nebraska, at a point doubtless between Gage coun- 
ty on the east and Furnas county on the west. In that vicinity 
he remained for twenty-five days engaged in observations and 
explorations. This is supposed to be the northernmost limit of 
Coronado's exploration. 

Some years ago an antique stirrup, of the shape and 
character of those used for centuries by the Moorish horsemen, 
was found seven miles north of Riverton, in Franklin county. 
It is believed that it was a relic of the Coronado expedition. 

Judge Savage incidentally refers to Father Marquette's 
map of his voyage down the Mississippi. This map, which was 
found in the archives of St. Mary's college in Montreal, was 
drawn by Father Marquette in 1763. It gives with remarkable 
accuracy the outlines of the territory which now forms the 
state of Nebraska. "The general course of the Missouri," says 
Judge Savage, "is given to a point far north of this latitude; 
the Platte river is laid down in almost its exact position, and 
among the Indian tribes, which he enumerates as scattered 
about this region, we find such names as Panas, Mahas, and 
Otontantes, which it is not difficult to translate into Pawnees, 



TTTE STORY OF OMAHA J 

Omahas, and perhaps Otoes. It is not without a thrill of in- 
terest that a Nebraskan can look upon the frail and discolored 
parchment upon which, for the first time in the history of the 
world, these words were written. So full and accurate is this 
new-found map that, had we not the word of Father Marquette 
to the contrary, it would not be difficult to believe that during 
his journey he personally visited the Platte river. It was a 
dream of his, which, had his young life been spared, would 
probably have been realized." 

The only North American province remaining in the pos- 
session of France, after the British conquest of Canada in 
1760, was Louisiana. In November, 1762, France ceded that 
possession to Spain, and for thirty-seven years thereafter Lou- 
isiana, which included Nebraska, was under Spanish dominion. 
Under a treaty, October 1, 1800, Louisiana was receded to 
France, and on April 30, 1803, by virtue of a treaty, Louisiana 
was ceded by France to the United States. This was known as 
the Louisiana Purchase. It covered a vast territory known 
as the Great Northwest, and was included in the term "Indian 
Territory." It comprised an area of 875,000 square miles — a 
territory larger by 54,000 square miles than the original thir- 
teen colonies combined. The price of this immense addition 
to the United States was only $15,000,000. It was" an unex- 
plored country, and immediately upon its acquisition the at- 
tention of the government was directed to it. Accordingly, in 
the summer of 1803, an expedition was organized under the 
direction of Captain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William 
Clark, both officers of the army, for the purpose of exploring 
the country along the Missouri river and its tributaries. The 
party consisted of about thirty-five men, well armed and 
equipped, and supplied with three boats. 

By reference to the journal of Lewis and Clark, published 
in 1814, we find that they arrived at the mouth of the Platte 
river in the latter part of July, 1804, where they stayed two 
or three days for repairs. The following extract from their 
journal, showing their approach and arrival at the spot where 
Omaha was afterwards located, will be found of interest to 
the reader : 

"July 27. — Having completed the object of our stay, we 



4 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

set sail with a pleasant breeze from the northwest. The two 
horses swam over to the southern (western) shore, along 
which we went, passing by an island, at three and a half miles, 
formed by a pond, fed by springs ; three miles further is a large 
sand island in the middle of the river, the land on the south 
(west) being high and covered with timber; that on the north 
(east) a prairie. At ten and a half miles from our encamp- 
ment we saw and examined a curious collection of graves or 
mounds, on the south (west) side of the river. Not far from a 
low piece of land and a pond is a tract of about two hundred 
acres in extent, which is covered with mounds of different 
heights, shapes and sizes; some of sand, and some of both earth 
and sand ; the largest being near the river. These mounds in- 
dicate the position of the ancient village of the Ottoes, before 
they retired to the protection of the Pawnees. After making 
fifteen miles we camped on the south (east) on the bank of a 
high, handsome prairie, with lofty cotton-wood in groves, near 
the river." 

It will be noticed that the chroniclers used the word south, 
when it should have been west, and north when it should have 
been east, with reference to the river as it runs past Omaha. 
This is easily accounted for by the fact that in those days the 
Missouri river was generally supposed to run east and west, 
or nearly so. 

The curious collection of graves or mounds, and the tract 
of two hundred acres covered with mounds of different heights, 
shapes and sizes, were undoubtedly included in that portion of 
the city bounded on the south by Farnam street, west of Elev- 
enth street, and on the north and east by the river bottoms. At 
different periods in the early history of the city, while excavat- 
ing cellars or grading streets, Indian graves were discovered, 
and bones and trinkets and relics were exhumed. Numerous 
mounds were found here in the early days. In 1873, while 
lower Douglas street was being graded, an Indian's skeleton 
was unearthed at the southeast corner of Eleventh and Doug- 
las streets. While workmen were engaged in 1876 in excavat- 
ing for the foundation of a school house, at the southeast cor- 
ner of Dodge and Eleventh streets, they dug up two Indian 
skeletons, with a lot of relics, among which were numerous 



THE STORY OF OMAHA D 

scalp rings, to which the hair still clung. Skeletons were found 
outside of the limit above described, but the evidence is suffici- 
ent to convince us that this is the spot mentioned by the ex- 
plorers. 

Lewis and Clark proceeded up stream, and on August 3d, 
in the morning, they held a council with fourteen Ottoe (now 
spelled Otoe) and Missouri Indians, who had come to the spot 
at sunset of the day before. They were accompanied by a 
Frenchman, who resided among them, and who acted as in- 
terpreter for the council, which had previously been arranged 
by runners sent out for the purpose. 

At the appointed hour the Indians with their six chiefs, 
assembled under an awning, formed with the mainsail of one 
of the boats, in the presence of the exploring party. The change 
in the government, from France to the United States, was an- 
nounced to them, and they were promised protection. The six 
chiefs replied, each in his turn, according to rank, expressing 
joy and satisfaction at the change. They wished to be recom- 
mended to the Great Father, the president, that they might ob- 
tain supplies and facilities for trading. They wanted arms for 
defense, and asked mediation between themselves and the Ma- 
has,* with whom they were at war. 

Lewis and Clark promised to comply with the requests of 
the Indians, and invited some of them to accompany the ex- 
pedition to the next nation, but they declined for fear of being 
killed. Numerous presents were distributed among the Indians, 
and on account of the incidents just related the explorers were 
induced to give the place the name of the Council Bluff, the 
situation of which, as they record it, was exceedingly favorable 
for a trading post. 

Here we take leave of Lewis and Clark. The place of 
their council — the Council Bluff — was about sixteen or eight- 
een miles in a straight line north of Omaha, and about forty 
miles by the river — the site of old Fort Atkinson, and now 
the location of the village of Fort Calhoun. It has been con- 
clusively settled that this point was the historical Council Bluff. 
Father de Smet, the well-known Jesuit missionary, who was 

•The Omahas are called the Mahas throughout the entire journal 
<>f Lewis and Clark, as well as in all other early records. The "O" li ■ 
prefix <>r comparatively recent date, 



6 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

considered good authority concerning any question about the 
Missouri river country, over which he had often traveled, and 
who lived where the city of Council Bluffs is now located, op- 
posite Omaha, in 1838 and 1839, in a letter to Mr. A. D. Jones, 
dated St. Louis, December 9, 1867, said in answer to some his- 
torical interrogatories that Fort Calhoun took the name of 
Fort Atkinson, which was built on the very spot where the 
council was held by Lewis and Clark, and was the highest and 
first military post above the mouth of the Nebraska or Platte 
river.* 

A Lewis and Clark monument was placed in the Calhoun 
public school yard on August 3, 1904 by the Nebraska Histor- 
ical society and the Sons and Daughters of the American Rev- 
olution. 

For many years the name of Fort Calhoun was errone- 
ously applied to the site of Fort Atkinson, and the act of the 
first territorial legislature, approved February 22, 1855, desig- 
nated Fort Calhoun as the county seat of Washington county. 
And thus it was that the little town was given the name that 
it has ever since retained and which was bestowed upon it in 
honor of John C. Calhoun, the famous secretary of war under 
President Monroe. It was Calhoun who undertook the estab- 
lishment of a chain of military posts along the entire northern 
border to keep the hostile Indians in check. 

Fort Atkinson* was named in honor of General Henry At- 
kinson who was in command of an expedition sent out to the 
far western country in 1819 from Plattsburg, New York. The 
troops, consisting of the Sixth infantry, commanded by Major 
Gad Humphreys, upon reaching St. Louis found three trans- 
ports — the Jefferson, the Expedition, and the Johnson — await- 
ing them, and on July 4th they embarked and steamed up the 
Mississippi into the Missouri. The latter river was found very 
difficult to navigate. One steamer ascended the stream only 
150 miles, another 350 miles, and the third 450 miles. The 
cargoes of each steamer eventually had to be conveyed in keel 
boats. It was not until October 1st that the expedition reached 
the Council Bluff — mentioned in the journal of Lewis and 
Clark — 700 miles above the mouth of the Missouri. Here it 

♦Fort Atkinson was built in 1821, and was evacuated in 1827 or '28. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA / 

became necessary to erect a fort for protection from the Indi- 
ans. This work was quickly done by the troops. A rifle regi- 
ment, stationed 450 miles up the river, soon joined the com- 
mand at this fort. The soldiers were not kept in idleness. Early 
the next spring they were put to work at farming, and the first 
season they raised 12,000 bushels of corn; the second, 15,000; 
and the third, 20,000. A sawmill and a grist mill were built 
and 300 cattle were maintained, the troops having the milk of 
100 cows. 

General Atkinson devised and used a stern wheel paddle 
boat, the wheel being worked by the soldiers. With this craft 
quite a number of keel boats were hauled up the river to Fort 
Atkinson, the first post west of the Missouri and the first settle- 
ment in Nebraska. These facts were obtained from letters 
written by General Atkinson in the fall of 1822, extracts from 
which were read at an elaborate centennial celebration at Cal- 
houn, October 11, 1919, by Colonel B. W. Atkinson, grand- 
son of the general, and who has been in the military service 
for thirty-nine years. For more than twenty-five years Colonel 
Atkinson was identified with the Sixth infantry, which regi- 
ment is closely connected with the early settlement of the 
northwest, particularly Nebraska. 

The late Henry W. Yates, in a carefully written article on 
"Landmarks of the Missouri in the Vicinity of Omaha/' pub- 
lished in The Omaha World-Herald of May 18, 1916, says: 
''There never was a time when the post was called Fort Cal- 
houn ********. The complete facts concerning it are 
clearly shown in the messages of the presidents during its ex- 
istence. The expedition was originally ordered to the mouth 
of the Yellowstone, but this movement was abandoned the fol- 
lowing year, and from the time the troops camped there (at 
the Council Bluff) until the .permanent fort was constructed 
it was called Cantonment or Camp Missouri." Mr. Yates says 
the date of the founding of this fort is given in all our histories 
as September 26, 1819. This, however, does not agree with the 
date mentioned in General Atkinson's letters, which were read 
at the Calhoun centennial celebration. By order of the secre- 
tary of war the name of Cantonment Missouri was changed 
on January 5, 1821, to Fort Atkinson. 



© THE STORY OF OMAHA 

In answer to the inquiry of Mr. Jones as to where Fort 
Croghan was located. Father de Smet replied : "After the 
evacuation of Fort Atkinson or Calhoun, either in 1827 or '28, 
or thereabouts, the troops came down and made winter quar- 
ters on Cow Island. Captain Labarge states it was called Camp 
Croghan. The next spring the flood disturbed the soldiers and 
they moved down the river and established Fort Leavenworth 
Colonel Leavenworth was commander at the breaking up of 
Fort Atkinson." 

Mr. Jones also asked Father de Smet if he knew who built or 
occupied the fortification, the remains of which were in 1868 
on the east bank of the river at Omaha. Father de Smet re- 
plied : "The remains alluded to must be the site of the old 
trading post of Mr. Hart. When it was in existence the Mis- 
souri river ran up to the trading post. In 1832 the river left 
it, and since that time it goes by the name of 'Hart's Cut-off,' 
having (leaving) a large lake above Council Bluff City." 

In the above paragraph we are made aware of the inter- 
esting fact that the ever-shifting Missouri river at that time 
ran close to the bluffs on the west side. It has since changed 
its channel several times opposite Omaha. 

The fortification referred to was near the junction of 
Capitol avenue and Ninth street, and Dodge and Tenth streets. 
The well-defined outlines of a fort, or some other kind of de- 
fensive works, were plainly visible until obliterated by the 
government corral built there during the war of the rebellion. 
This fort, as has been well maintained by Mr. Jones in opposi- 
tion to different opinions, was built by the Otoes for protec- 
tion against hostile tribes. Some have held that these extinct 
fortifications were none other than old Fort Croghan, indi- 
cated upon the early maps, but Mr. Jones, the best authority in 
our opinion, and sustained by numerous other old settlers, was 
certain that Fort Croghan was upon the east side of the river 
between Council Bluffs and Traders Point, the latter place 
having been long since washed away by the Missouri. 

Another inquiry by Mr. Jones, who, while secretary of 
the Omaha Old Settlers' association in 1867-68, evidently 
faithfully performed his duty and was frequently engaged in 
hunting up the records of the past, was : "Do you know of 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 9 

cither soldiers or Indians ever having resided on the Omaha 
plateau?" Father de Smet's answer was: "I do not know. A 
noted trader, by the name of T. B. Roye, had a trading post 
from 1825 to 1828, established on the Omaha plateau, and 
may be the first white man, who built the first cabin, on the 
beautiful plateau, where now stands the flourishing city of 
Omaha." 




CHAPTER IT 



THE INDIANS 



EXTINGUISHMENT OF THE INDIAN TITLE TO THE LAND THE 

FONTENELLE FAMILY LOGAN FONTENELLE, CHIEF OF THE 

OMAHAS HIS DEATH AND BURIAL A MAN SKINNED ALIVE 

BY THE INDIANS. 

In February, 1854, Major Gatewood, agent for the tribes 
in this vicinity, called the Indians together at Bellevue, which 
had been for a long time an Indian mission, and there dis- 
cussed the subject of making a treaty by which they would 
yield up the title to their land. Treaties were made with the 
different tribes in March and April, which resulted in the 
passage of the enabling act of Nebraska territory in 1854. 
Franklin Pierce was then president, and George W. Many- 
penny was commissioner of Indian affairs. 

The tribes who signed the treaties were the Otoes, the 
Missouris, and the Omahas. The terms were liberal and satis- 
factory, and little or no trouble was experienced in their re- 
moval to the reservations provided for them, the transfer being 
effected gradually within a year or two. 

The Omahas early in the eighteenth century were located 
on the west side of the Missouri, near the mouth of the Sioux 
river. Crossing over to the country along the Niobrara river 
they were from time to time driven down the Missouri by the 
hostile Sioux. The country claimed by them, when the Omaha 
treaty was made, included a vast territory west of the Missouri 
and north of the Platte. The treaty was proclaimed and went 
into effect June 21, 1854. The Omahas remain upon their 
reservation in this state, and now number only about 1,000 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



11 




LoKan Fontenelle 



persons, the remnant of a once large and powerful tribe. They 
have become civilized and self-sustaining by means of agricul- 
ture. 

Shon-ga-ska, or Logan Fontenelle, who 
was the chief of the Omahas at the time 
the treaty was made with them, was a 
very intelligent man, and the history of 
the Fontenelle family, in this connection, 
will prove interesting to the reader. 

Lucien Fontenelle, born in New Orleans 
about the year 1800, of French parents, 
was a gentleman of good education, and 
one that possessed every indication of hav- 
ing been well raised. He came to this 
western country about the year 1824, in 
the employ of Major Joshua Pilcher, and 
took an Omaha squaw — a high-toned belle of the tribe — for 
his wife. He was engaged in the Indian trade in 1835 in the 
vicinity of Fort Laramie with a Mr. Drips. A large depot for 
the storage of their goods for the mountain trade was built 
at Bellevue and was maintained for many years. 

Fontenelle treated his Indian wife very kindly, and gave 
his children a good education in St. Louis. The children left 
St. Louis in 1836 or 1837, and resided at Bellevue with their 
mother. There were four boys and one girl. 

In 1839 Lucien Fontenelle abandoned his mountain trade, 
and lived with his family till his death, which occurred in the 
spring of 1840, and was caused by the too excessive use of 
liquor, which brought on delirium tremens. For the following 
interesting facts we are indebted to "Old Pawnee," who wrote 
several chapters of the early history of Nebraska for The 
Omaha Herald, at various times, and it is from one of these 
sketches that we quote : 

"Logan, the oldest son, was a remarkable boy; active, 
with quick perception, and beloved by all who knew him, but 
he imbibed something of the habit of his father, and was finally 
killed by the Sioux, but not till he had fought bravely to the 
List. Albert was a fine boy, of good disposition and had partly 
learned the blacksmith's trade, and at his death was Pawnee 



12 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

government smith, with John Snuffen. He was thrown from 
a mule, which caused his death. Tecumseh was killed by Louis 
Neal (brother-in-law) in a drunken frolic. He was an intelli- 
gent man, but not naturally as agreeable as the other children. 
Henry and Susan (Mrs. Neal) were still living in 1870, or 
1871, when this sketch was written. Henry served as an ap- 
prentice to the wagon business in St. Louis, and is very handy 
with tools ; in fact, they were a remarkable family, had been 
well raised, and were gentle in their manners. The mother was 
a remarkable woman, and in 1834 performed a revengeful act. 

"There was an Iowa Indian who headed a party of Iowas 
to pay the Omahas a friendly visit, who were then living at 
cr near the present site of Omaha. After being well received 
and kindly treated by the Omahas they left the village to re- 
turn home, and near Bellevue met a small party of Omahas 
and killed some four of Mrs. Fontenelle's relatives, and stuck 
a spear through a half-breed Omaha boy (after killing his 
mother) by the name of Karsener. They stuck the spear 
through the left breast and pinned him to the ground. Some 
of the Indians said, 'Don't kill that boy; he is a white boy.' The 
Iowa Indians replied, 'A white man's blood is the same to us 
as an Omaha's,' and left the boy pinned to the ground. 

"Mrs. Fontenelle from that time sought revenge on that 
Iowa, and made some two or three attempts to kill him, but 
did not succeed. At length the time came. At the Bellevue 
landing stood an old trading post, in which there were several 
buildings, with the Otoe, Omaha and Pawnee smith-shops and 
the houses of the employes and Reverend Moses Merrill and 
family. This same Iowa, with others, was there, and one of 
the assistant smiths, by the name of Shaw, had procured a keg 
of whisky, of which he was so extremely fond that he took 
too much of the article, and the Iowas broke open the shop and 
stole his keg. They imbibed so freely that they were getting 
up a jubilee, when Hannibal Dougherty, the agent's brother, 
took an axe, and broke the keg and spilled the whisky. There 
was an old Frenchman, by the name of Sharlo Malice, who 
got dead drunk sucking up the dirt. The Iowa Indian, above 
mentioned, lay drunk in one of the buildings of the fort that 
stood endwise to the river, when Mrs. Fontenelle deliberately 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 13 

took an axe and knocked his brains out, then jumped some ten 
feet out of a four-light window, down the bank and ran home. 
That night war was expected, but the Iowas showed no fight, 
cowardly returning home after burying him who received his 
just fate. 

"Mr. Fontenelle was then up at his fort, in the moun- 
tains, and Major Pilcher took Mrs. Fontenelle to the village 
of the Omahas, who were then living at the Black Bird hills, 
near where they now dwell. Some two months later Mr. Fon- 
tenelle came to Bellevue and sent an escort of Omahas for 
his wife, to whom he paid about $1,000 worth of presents for 
bringing her down." 

Logan Fontenelle, son of Lucien Fontenelle, became chief 
of the Omahas. He was of medium height, of swarthy com- 
plexion, black hair and dark piercing eyes. At the time of his 
death, which occured while bravely battling against the Sioux, 
he was thirty years of age. Concerning his death and burial 
S. D. Bangs' History of Sarpy County contains the following 
account : 

"In the middle of the summer of 1855 a procession might 
have been seen wending its way towards the old home of Logan 
Fontenelle on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri river and 
above the stone quarries of Bellevue. It moved slowly along, 
led by Louis San-so-see, who was driving a team with a wagon 
in which, wrapped in blankets and buffalo robes, was all that 
was mortal of Logan Fontenelle. On either side the Indian 
chiefs and braves, mounted on ponies, with the squaws and 
relatives of the deceased, expressed their grief in mournful 
outcries. His remains were taken to the house which he had 
left a short time before, and now, desolate and afflicted, they 
related the incidents of his death. He had been killed by the 
Sioux on the Loup Fork thirteen days before, while on a 
hunt with the Omahas. Having left the main body with San- 
so-see in pursuit of game, and while in a ravine that hid them 
from the sight of the Omahas, they came in contact with a 
band of Sioux on the war-path, who attacked them. San-so- 
see escaped in some thick underbrush while Fontenelle stood 
his ground, fighting desparatelv and killing three of his ad- 
versaries, when he fell, pierced with fourteen arrows, and 



14 TTTE STORY OF OMAHA 

the prized scalp-lock was taken by his enemies. The Omahas 
did not recover his body until the next day. 

"It was the wish of Colonel Sarpy to have him interred 
on the bluffs, fronting the house in which he had lived, and 
a coffin was made which proved too small without unfolding 
the blankets which enveloped him, and as he had been dead 
so long this was a disagreeable task. After putting him 
in the coffin his wives, who witnessed the scene, uttered the 
most piteous cries, and cut their ankles until the blood ran in 
streams. An old Indian woman who looked like the Witch of 
Endor, standing between the house and the grave, lifted her 
arms to heaven and shrieked her maledictions upon the heads 
of his murderers. Colonel Sarpy, Stephen Decatur, Mrs. 
Sloan, an Otoe half-breed, and others stood over the grave 
where his body was being lowered, while Decatur was reading 
the impressive funeral service of the Episcopal church. After 
the whites, headed by Colonel Sarpy, had paid their last re- 
spects, the Indians filed around the grave, and made a few 
demonstrations of sorrow ; the whites dispersing to their 
homes, and the Indians to relate their own exploits and the 
daring of their dead chief/' 

The full length portrait of Logan Fontenelle, hanging 
in the lobby of the Fontenelle hotel in Omaha, shows him ar- 
rayed in full Indian costume. This is contrary to the idea of 
the oldest inhabitants who say that the blanket, feathers, war 
paint, moccasins, and other Indian trimmings are entirely out 
of place as Logan Fontenelle was educated and civilized and 
should have been pictured in the ready-to-wear clothes of the 
white man. 

The history of the Fontenelle family begins in France. 
The Fontenelles belonged to the nobility and were highly edu- 
cated, refined, wealthy, and influential. Bernard le Bovier de 
Fontenelle, who died in 1757 at the age of over ninety-nine 
years, achieved fame as a literary man. He was a fluent writer 
cf prose and poetry and was the author of several successful 
operas. The Marquis Francois de Fontenelle, one of his de- 
scendants, and a man of wealth and character, whose estate 
was in the vicinity of Marseilles, migrated with his family to 
New France, as Louisiana was called, and made his home at 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 15 

Burat, below New Orleans. The records of the old St. Louis 
cathedral in New Orleans shows that his children, Lucien 
Francois and Amelia, were baptized in 1803. A few years 
later a hurricane and freshet swept over the country, wiping 
out all traces of the estate, and drowning the whole family 
with the exception of Lucien and Amelia, who were at the 
home of their aunt, Madame Merlier, in New Orleans, where 
they were being educated. Lucien became a clerk in a bank. 
One day his aunt, a high tempered person, struck him. That 
blow set the young man adrift. That same night he said good 
bye to Sophie, the colored nurse, and sought his fortune in 
the wild west. His sister married Henry Lockett, a lawyer, 
nephew of Judge Henry Carleton, for many years judge of the 
supreme court of New Orleans. 

Lucien Fontenelle returned to New Orleans on a visit 
after he had been gone twenty years, and during that long per- 
iod he had never communicated with his sister. So changed 
in appearance was he that his sister at first refused to believe 
that he was her long lost brother. He was obliged to identify 
himself by showing a flesh mark on his right foot to the old 
nurse Sophie, who knew of this mark. In every respect he 
closely resembled an Indian owing to his outdoor life. Airs. 
A. L. Thompson, daughter of Mrs. Lockett, and a cousin of 
Henry Fontenelle, and who resided in Chicago, wrote in 1885 
an interesting story about Lucien Fontenelle, from which the 
following is an extract : 

"He told his sister that when he left home he went to St. 
Louis and there joined the American Fur company, going over 
all the great North as far as Hudson bay, then crossing the 
country over the Rocky mountains and through what is now 
known as Oregon, Washington, and other western states and 
territories. He could speak ten or fifteen dialects. He was inti- 
mate with the Choteau family of St. Louis. Lucien Fontenelle 
was well supplied with means, and was lavish with his money. 
He said his home was where Bellevue, Nebraska, now is, and 
that he had married a woman of the Indian tribe, at which his 
sister became very indignant. He remained in New Orleans 
some m"x weeks when he left for home among the [ndians, 
promising to return some time again. On his way he was taken 



16 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

sick and died, as near as we could learn, at a point which is now 
Alton, Illinois. Where Lucien Fontenelle was buried was nev- 
er known. A few months after he left New Orleans Father 
de Smet called on Mrs. Lockett and stated that he had been 
with Lucien in his last moments, and that his last request was 
that he should see his sister and ask her to take his only daugh- 
ter, and his fortune was at her command to care for and edu- 
cate her, and the priest was to educate the other children, four 
sons. 

"At that time Mrs. Lockett was wealthy and moving in 
most aristocratic society, and had no need of her brother's 
money. She told Father de Smet that she could not take the 
daughter, and he was welcome to the money for the use of the 
children. She thought no further of the matter. 

"In 1870 or 1871 a notice appeared in a St. Louis paper 
asking for heirs to some property in Bellevue, Nebraska. Re- 
membering that Lucien Fontenelle had resided there inquiries 
were made as to what had become of the children. After cor- 
responding with several persons it was learned from Father 
de Smet that he had performed a marriage ceremony between 
Lucien and the Indian woman, and that there were four sons 
and one daughter, whom he had baptized in the Catholic faith. 
Logan, one of the boys, had been killed in battle with the 
Sioux, and the others he thought resided in Nebraska. After 
searching for the property and records of grants, which Lu- 
cien had mentioned when visiting his sister in New Orleans, 
nothing was found further than that a grant had been prom- 
ised, but not consummated. 

"In 1874 there was noticed in Chicago papers the arrival 
of a party of Indians from Washington in charge of Agent 
Gillingham and Henry Fontenelle, interpreter. A daughter 
(Mrs. Thompson, the writer,) of Mrs. Lockett, resided in 
Chicago, and called at the hotel where the party was staying, 
expecting to find some of the old Fontenelle family, perhaps a 
grandson. She was joyfully surprised to find the son of her 
long lost uncle, after a lapse of thirty-eight years. Since then 
they corresponded regularly. 

"Amelia Fontenelle Lockett died in Tallahassee, Florida, 
some two years ago ( 1883) at the ripe age of 81, still the same 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 17 

aristocratic French woman. While her fortune fled with the 
late rebellion she never accustomed herself to privations. She 
was connected to Hon. Pierre Soule, at one time a member of 
congress; also to Jules Caire, a prominent gentleman of New 
Orleans, as well as Dr. Armand Merlier, a celebrated surgeon 
who was her first cousin. There are but two daughters remain- 
ing (1885) of the once large family of eleven children born to 
Amelia Fontenelle and Henry Lockett, one in New Orleans, 
the other (Mrs. Thompson) in Chicago. 

"There are now (in 1885) living in Havre, France, two 
granddaughters of Madame Merlier, and second cousins to 
Henry Fontenelle. Their mother died some years ago. They 
have splendid residences in Havre, and are of the nobility." 

In volume II of the "Transactions and Reports of the 
Nebraska Historical Society," published in 1887, there is an 
intensely interesting and lengthy paper by Rev. Samuel Allis, 
entitled "Forty Years Among the Indians on the Eastern Bor- 
ders of Nebraska," from which the following is an extract: 

"Lucien Fontenelle, the father of five interesting children, 
was a man of talents and well liked by those who knew him. 
He also had great influence with the Indians, especially the 
Omahas. He was a gentleman in his manners and affectionate 
to his family. He was a successful trader (at Bellevue) and 
in company with Major Drips also had a trading post at Fort 
Laramie. * * * * Notwithstanding his many excellent quali- 
ties and refinement he followed in the wake of most Indian 
traders and died from the effects of intemperance. The house 
in which he died stands (stood) on the river bank near Belle- 
vue, close to the railroad track." (This statement is in all 
probability correct and shows that he did not die near the pres- 
ent site of Alton, Illinois, as claimed by Mrs. Thompson.) 

"There also was Baptiste Roy," relates Mr. Allis in his 
memoirs, "who had a trading house near the mouth of the 
Papillion in Sarpy county. A famous steamboat captain, Jo- 
seph La Barge, was his clerk. This reminds me of a noted 
rascal half-breed Arickaree, named Antoine Garrow, who was 
staying at Roy's trading house, and who visited Fontenelle's 
place. Fontenelle, knowing that he had headed the Arickarees 
in killing several white men. and being somewhat intoxicated 



18 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

shot at Garrow. The bullet passed through Garrow's hat. 
'What's that for?' asked Garrow. 'I meant to kill you,' re- 
plied Fontenelle. Garrow at once left the fort. Fontenelle as- 
sembled a party of five or six men and in the evening went to 
Roy's fort and sent in two men to call Garrow out. When 
Garrow appeared they took him of! some eighty rods and shot 
him. He was buried beside a large Cottonwood tree on the 
bank of the Missouri river below Bellevue, near the home of 
Bruno Tzschuck." 

The "Fontenelle necklace," which was presented by Mrs. 
Henry Fontenelle to the Nebraska State Historical society, 
January 11, 1920, has an interesting history. The necklace, 
composed of thirteen large rhinestones set in 18-karat gold, 
was given by Colonel Peter A. Sarpy to his cousin, Emily 
Pattan, a maiden of the Pawnee Indian tribe, about 1846. 
Emily Pattan married Henry Fontenelle. This necklace thus 
links three families — the Sarpys, the Pattans and the Fon- 
tenelles. Mrs. Henry Fontenelle is now (in 1921) about 85 
years of age and lives in Decatur. The presentation of the 
necklace to the historical society was made in behalf of Airs. 
Fontenelle by Mrs. Harriet MacMurphy, who in early days 
was a resident of Decatur and was intimately acquainted with 
the members of the Fontenelle family and became well versed 
in Indian lore. 

As this chapter is headed "The Indians," we know of no 
more appropriate place to relate an event that occurred about 
1852, at a point on the old military road about five miles west 
of the Elkhorn river. It was the actual skinning of a man alive 
by the Pawnee Indians, and as it is the only act of the kind 
probably ever performed in this vicinity it is well worth re- 
cording. General Estabrook informed the writer that he hap- 
pened to know the man who was the victim of the Pawnees' 
wrath. His name was Rhines, a silversmith, who was once a 
resident of Geneva, Wisconsin, but who just previous to 
his coming west, en route to California, lived in Delavan. in 
the same state. A man bearing the same name as General 
F.stabrook, of whom he was a distant relative, was one of 
the party, and he wrote an account of the horrible affair. 

It appears that Rhines had made a foolish boast, before 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 19 

itarting from home, to the effect that he would shoot the first 
ndian he saw. In due time the party with which he was travel- 
ng arrived in Nebraska, and camped one evening on the bank 
)f a stream, which at that time was nameless. As the train 
vas about ready to move out the next morning a small band 
)f young Indians, who had come across the river from the 
D awnee village on the opposite side, approached the encamp- 
nent. These were the first Indians the party had seen, and 
\hines was thereupon reminded of his boast. He immediately 
)icked up his rifle, took aim at a young squaw, and shot her 
lead. The news was carried to the Pawnee village at once, 
md the whites were soon surrounded by the exasper- 
ited Indians who demanded and obtained possession of Rhines. 
\fter stripping him, they tied him to a wagon wheel, and then 
:ommenced to skin him alive. The poor wretch piteously 
jegged of both his own companions and the Indians to shoot 
lim and thus end his terrible suffering, but the whites were 
impelled by the Indians to stand by and witness the torture of 
heir comrade without being able to render him any assistance 
except at the risk of their own lives. The skinning process 
vas finally completed, and the unfortunate man survived the 
/peration but a few moments, during which he was cut to 
)ieces by the squaws with their mattocks. 

The emigrants were then allowed to move on. Since 
hat day the stream, upon the banks of which this barbarous 
leed was committed, has been called the Rawhide. This story 
s known to nearly all the old settlers of Omaha and Nebraska 
o be true. 



CHAPTER III 



THE MORMONS 



WESTWARD PILGRIMAGE THROUGH IOWA AND NEBRASKA 

WINTER QUARTERS AT FLORENCE MILLER^ HILL, AFTER- 
WARDS KANESVILLE, AND FINALLY COUNCIL BLUFFS THE 

MORMON BATTALION SUFFERINGS OF THE MORMONS 

THEIR RELATIONS WITH THE INDIANS SOME ROMANTIC 

STORIES OMAHA MORMONS INTERESTING EXTRACTS FROM 

AN OLD MORMON HISTORY. 

The feeling against the Mormons in 
Illinois, culminating in a bitter warfare, 
compelled them to leave that state. The 
charter of their principal city, Nauvoo, 
which had grown to be a place of over 
15,000 population, was repealed in 1845, 
and thereupon they began seeking for a 
new location. They naturally turned their 
eyes westward. Early in 1846 they began 
crossing the Mississippi river to Iowa, and 
pushing across that state to the Missouri 
river. Brigham Young soon joined the camps of Israel, as the 
Mormons styled their resting places. Scraping away the snow 
they erected their tents upon the frozen ground, and building 
large fires they made themselves as comfortable as possible 
under the circumstances. At the first encampment the mercury 
at one time fell 20 degrees below zero. It would be difficult to 
realize the sufferings of a people just driven from comfortable 
homes under the rigors of such a climate and protected only 




I?rig'liam Young 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 21 

by the frail coverings of canvas tents. No time was allowed 
for disposing of their property, farms and dwellings, and many 
of them were compelled to set out on their journey without the 
means of procuring the necessary provisions to sustain them 
for even a short distance beyond the settlements. 

In the month of September the city of Nauvoo was be- 
sieged and mobbed for three days by the Illinois troops and the 
remaining inhabitants were driven out at the point of the bay- 
onet. As soon as the camp of Israel was fully on the march 
Brigham Young divided it into companies of hundreds, fifties 
and tens, and when moving they marched with the precision of 
an army of soldiers. When the advance guard had reached 
Miller's Hill, so called in honor of a Mormon elder — the place 
later being known as Council Bluffs — they received a request 
from the United States government to raise a battalion for the 
war then pending with Mexico. Although the main body of 
Mormons was still 130 miles east, they responded promptly to 
the call by forming the famous Mormon battalion. Colonel 
T. L. Kane, brother of the great Arctic explorer, organized 
these volunteers and became very popular among the Mormons, 
who, to honor him, gave the name of Kanesville to Miller's 
Hill, and this name the place retained for several years. In 
1852 the citizens of Kanesville sent for Alfred D. Jones, who 
was a surveyor in his younger days, and was then residing at 
Glenwood, Iowa, to come and survey their town. At Traders 
Point, below Kanesville, was a post office called Council 
Bluffs, and the thousands of emigrants coming to this country 
at that time, would, upon being asked, say that they were going 
to Council Bluffs. After Kanesville had been surveyed the citi- 
zens wanted a new name for the place, and decided to make a 
change. The question then arose as to what it should be. It 
was finally agreed to adopt the name of Council Bluffs, on the 
ground that they ought to have a name that would catch all 
the mail matter directed to emigrants who were scattered all 
the way from Sioux City south to Sidney. As nearly all the 
letters for these emigrants were directed to the Council Bluffs 
postoffice at Traders Point the suggestion to appropriate thai 

name and add it t<> the word "( "itv." making the new Kanesville 

postoffice Council Bluffs City, was accepted. The place was 



22 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

accordingly called Council Bluffs City for a while, thus secur- 
ing control of all the mail matter of the rival office, which was 
finally abandoned. When Council Bluffs City became strong 
enough, the citizens demanded and obtained a charter, and then 
the "City" was dropped, the bill being introduced by Hadley 
D. Johnson, a member of the Iowa legislature, and who after- 
wards became a resident of Omaha. 

The Mormon battalion proceeded to California, but ar- 
rived too late to take any active part in the war as peace had 
already been declared. The battalion was therefore disbanded, 
and a few of the men found employment in Captain Sutter's 
mill race at a point about sixty miles from the present city of 
Sacramento. While engaged in the work there, in the spring 
of 1848, they discovered gold. General Sherman, then a young 
lieutenant, tested it and made the first official report of the 
discovery to the government. These men afterwards returned 
to Iowa and Nebraska for their families, bringing with them 
the first California gold ever seen in this section. 

Colonel Kane first became acquainted with the Prophet 
while crossing the state of Iowa. In after years he 
delivered a lecture before the Philadelphia Historical society 
upon the Mormons, in which he spoke of having found Presi- 
dent Young "sharing sorrow with the sorrowful, and poverty 
with the poor," and described him as a man of rare natural 
endowment. He also praised him for his patriotism in ordering 
the formation of the Mormon battalion. Colonel Kane, became 
a sincere friend of Brigham Young, and it was mainly owing 
to his recommendation to President Fillmore that he was ap- 
pointed in 1850 to the governorship of Utah. 

With the departure of the Mormon battalion from Kanes- 
ville had vanished the hopes of making any further progress 
in their march during that season. The Mormons thereupon 
set to work to locate and build their winter quarters. A council 
was held at Kanesville with the Pottawattamie Indians, who 
welcomed the Mormons with a spirit of sympathy, for they, 
too, not many years before, had been driven from Illinois. 
Amicable arrangements were made with the Omahas, and ac- 
cordingly the winter quarters proper were located a few miles 
above the present site of Omaha. There, on a slight plateau 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 23 

overlooking the river, near the place where Florence — now a 
part of Omaha — -was afterwards located, the Mormons con- 
structed about one thousand houses. The industry of the peo- 
ple was plainly evidenced by the workshops and mills and fac- 
tories which sprang up as if by magic. 

The location of the headquarters brought the Mormons 
into peculiar relations with the Omahas. A council was held 
between the Mormon elders and the Omaha chiefs. Big Elk, 
principal chief of the tribe, in response to Brigham Young's 
speech, replied as follows : 

"My son, thou hast spoken well. All that thou hast said 
I have in my heart. I have much to say. We are poor. When 
we go to hunt game in one place we meet an enemy, and so 
in another place our enemies kill us. We do not kill them. I 
hope we shall be friends. You may stay on these lands two 
years or more. Our young men shall watch your cattle. We 
would be glad to have you trade with us. We will warn you 
of danger from other Indians." 

After the council had adjourned the Mormons gave a 
banquet in honor of the Omahas. The Indians had good rea- 
son for being pleased with the presence of the white people. 
The Mormons harvested and cured their crops of maize, and 
in spite of their own poverty spared them food enough from 
time to time to keep them from starving, while their fortified 
town served as a barrier against the raids of the hostile Sioux 
upon the Omahas. 

The Mormons were careful in all their dealings with the 
Indians to have the law on their side, and one of their first 
acts was to obtain the legal title to the lands on which they had 
settled. Big Elk, Standing Elk, and Little Chief signed an 
agreement leasing to the Mormons, for the period of five years, 
the lands which they occupied. In the course of time, however, 
the Indians complained to their agent that the Mormons were 
cutting too much timber and killing too much game, and they 
were accordingly ordered to vacate the land. A large number 
of them recrossed the river to Iowa, and temporarily settled 
at Kanesville and in the ravines among the bluffs in the vicini- 
ty. An expedition consisting of about 150 men and eighty 
wagons and teams had been sent westward to seek a per- 



24 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

manent location. They found no suitable place until they 
arrived at Salt Lake, where they were charmed with the 
beauties of the valley, and were pleased with its remoteness 
from their religious persecutors. Having made a settlement 
there they sent for the remainder of their people, the most of 
whom proceeded on their pilgrimage between the years 1853 
and 1860. The departure in the spring of 1848 of the first 
band of emigrants from Winter Quarters or Florence, and 
from Kanesville or Council Bluffs for the Promised Land, was 
celebrated in a song, written by their poet, Eliza R. Snow, to 
inspire them with new hopes. It was entitled "The Pioneer's 
Song," the first verse and chorus being: 

The time of winter now is o'er, 

There's verdure on the plain; 
W T e leave our sheltering - roofs once more, 

And to our tents again, 

CHORUS: 

A ramp of Israel, onward move. 

O, Jacob, rise and sing*; 
Ye saints the world's salvation prove, 

All hail to Zion's King! 

Year after year parties of Mormons on their way west- 
ward spent the winter at Florence, and in the spring resumed 
their march. Nearly all the wagon trains for Salt Lake were 
outfitted and started from Florence, thus making that place 
a very lively business point.* 

The winter of 1855-56 is especially memorable for having 
been unusually severe. Many of the Mormons were smothered 
to death by the heavy snow crushing their frail tenements 
and dugouts on both sides of the river in this locality. Provi- 
sions became very scarce among those who had taken up their 
temporary habitation in the vicinity of old Winter Quarters, 
and it is said that quite a number of the people actually perished 
from starvation. To add to the horrors of the situation, the 
scurvy, caused by a lack of proper food, broke out among 
them and carried off many victims. Over five hundred graves 
on the Florence bluffs bear witness to the fatal hardships and 
sufferings of that winter. 

Some romantic stories are told of the wonderful cures 

•It is estimated that the Mormon pilgrimage to Salt Lake included 
about 16,000 persons. At times there were between 5,000 and 6,000 popu- 
lation at Winter Quarters, by which name the place was called for seven 
or eight years, when it was changed to Florence. Quite a number of 
non-polygamous Mormons still reside in Florence, Omaiia ana Council 
Bluffs. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 25 

effected by the prayers of the Mormon elders. "I do not pre- 
tend to say," remarked one of the survivors of that early day, 
''whether it was the power of God that did the work, but it is 
sufficient for me to know that many a man was healed by my 
prayers." The North Omaha creek — long ago converted into 
a sewer — was the scene of many a Mormon baptism, and we 
are told of a sick man who upon being baptized there, in the 
dead of winter, through an opening in the ice, came out of the 
water entirely cured. 

In the spring of 1856 some of the Omaha Mormons laid 
out a town where Genoa was afterwards located. Each settler 
was given a lot, upon which to build a house, and at the same 
time each took up a claim outside of the town. These settlers 
were hardly established in their new location when their 
claims were disputed by an anti-Mormon party. "We had good 
arms and knew how to use them," said one of the Mormon sur- 
vivors, who became a resident of Omaha, "and we held the 
enemy at bay. They then attempted to burn us out by setting 
the prairie on fire, but the fire turned back on their own camp 
and destroyed nearly all their equipments, including even their 
wagons." 

While a great many of the Mormons emigrated to Utah, 
a large number remained in Nebraska and Iowa. Of these latter 
were many who believed Brigham Young was a usurper, and 
that Joseph Smith, jr., the son of the originator of the Mor- 
mon religion, was the rightful head of the church. The formal 
promulgation of the doctrine of polygamy in 1852 by the Utah 
Mormons, who claimed that Joseph Smith had taught the doc- 
trine, made a strong dividing line between the two factions. 
As early as 1851 the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of 
Latter Day Saints was organized, the principal feature of 
which was the disavowal of polygamy. Joseph Smith, jr., in 
1860 became fully identified with the reorganized church, 
which in 1890 numbered nearly 39,000 members. 

In 1858 George Medlock, who was a resident of Omaha, 
was appointed a missionary to this city by the reorganized 
church. lie baptized sixteen persons in Omaha and founded 
a branch of the church here. At first they held meetings in 
private houses and subsequently in an old school house, at the 



26 TTTE STORY OF OMAITA 

southeast corner of Capitol avenue and Fifteenth street. They 
erected their first church building, a small frame structure, on 
Cass street, in 1870. Recently they disposed of this property, 
and now have a very neat little church building in North 
Omaha. 

Mr. James G. Megeath, who was one of Omaha's old 
settlers, had in his possession a very valuable historical book 
relating to the Mormons and their pilgrimage across the plains. 
It was entitled "Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Val- 
ley," and was published in Liverpool in 1853. It was edited 
by James Lin forth, and was illustrated with beautiful steel en- 
gravings and wood cuts from sketches made by Frederick 
Piercy. Much interesting information regarding the Mormons 
during their stay at Winter Quarters and Kanesville was con- 
tained in the volume. The Mormon historian says : "The next 
consecutive event of importance in President Young's career 
after his arrival at Kanesville or Council Bluffs was his start- 
ing in the spring of 1847, at the head of 143 picked men, em- 
bracing eight of the Twelve Apostles, across the unexplored 
Indian country in search of a new home for the Saints beyond 
the Rocky mountains. The pioneer band pursued their way 
over sage and saleratus plains, across unbridged rivers, and 
through mountain defiles, until their toilsome and weary jour- 
ney was terminated by the discovery of Great Salt Lake valley, 
and the choice of it for the gathering place of the Saints. They 
then returned to Council Bluffs, where they arrived on the 31st 
of October, and an epistle was issued on the 23d of December 
by the Twelve Apostles, noticing the principal events which 
had befallen the Saints since the expulsion from Nauvoo, and 
the discovery of the Great Salt Lake valley. It w r as also stated 
that it was a contemplation to reorganize the church, according 
to the original pattern, with a first presidency and patriarch. 
Accordingly on the 24th, the day following, at a conference 
held at the 'Log Tabernacle' in Kanesville, the suggestion 
was brought before the Saints who 'hailed it as an action which 
the state of the work at present demanded, and Bringham 
Young was nominated to be the first president of the church, 
and he nominated Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards to 
be his two counsellors, which nominations were seconded and 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 27 

carried without a dissentient voice.' The appointment was af- 
terwards acknowledged at a general conference held on the 
6th of April, 1848, at the same place. In the following May, 
Presidents Young and Kimball set out to return to Utah, at 
the head of a large company of Saints, and arrived on the 20th 
of September." 

Winter Quarters is thus described by the same historian : 
"The name was given to the place by the Latter Day Saints, 
who wintered there in 1846-7. At that time it formed part of 
the lands belonging to the Omaha Indians, an insignificant 
tribe of the Grand Prairie, who then did not number more than 
300 families. Upwards of 1,000 houses were soon built, 700 
of them in about three months, upon a pretty plateau over- 
looking the river, and neatly laid out with highways and by- 
ways, and fortified with breastwork and stockade. It had, too, 
its place of worship, 'Tabernacle of the Congregation/ and 
various large workshops, and mills and factories provided with 
waterpower. At this time the powerful Sioux were at war with 
the Omahas, and it is said that the latter hailed with joy the 
temporary settlement of the journeying Saints among them. At 
any rate, the encampment served as a sort of breakwater be- 
tween them and the destroying rush of their powerful and de- 
vastating foes. The Saints likewise harvested and stored away 
for them their crops of maize, and with all their own poverty 
frequently spared them food and kept them from absolutely 
starving. Always capricious, and in this case instigated by 
white men, the Indians, notwithstanding they had formally 
given the Saints permission to settle upon their lands, com- 
plained to the Indian agents that they were trespassing upon 
them, and they were requested to move. From this circum- 
stance is attributable the rise and rapid growth of Kanesville, 
leaving Winter Quarters again entirely to its savage inhabi- 
tants, and only its rnins to point out its former prosperity, and 
now its situation. In the annals of the Church of Jesus Christ 
of Latter Day Saints this halting place in the wilderness must 
always fill an important and interesting page, it was from 
this spot that the pioneers took their departure on the 14th of 
April, 1(S47, in search of a location west of the Rocky moun- 
tains, upon which the exiled Saints might reassemble them- 



28 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

selves, far from the haunts of persecuting Christendom, and 
where the foot-prints of a white man had scarcely ever before 
been seen. * * * Since the organization of Nebraska terri- 
tory an effort has been made, owing to the desirable situation 
of Winter Quarters, and its good ferriage and water facilities, 
to build a city by the name of Florence upon the old site." 

"Kanesville is situated," says the Mormon historian, "at 
the mouth of a small valley, having a small stream called In- 
dian creek. The town was commenced by the Saints at their 
exodus from Nauvoo, in 1846, and a number of large holes, 
which were dug by the pilgrims in the sides of the hills as tem- 
porary dwelling places, are still to be seen. The place soon 
rose into importance, and continued to be occupied by the 
Saints until 1852, when nearly all left for Utah. A newspaper . 
The Frontier Guardian, was edited and published there by El- 
der O. Hyde, until his departure for the Great Salt Lake valley. 
I found Kanesville to be a very dirty, unhealthy place, and 
withal a very dear place to make an outfit for the plains, not- 
withstanding the assertions of holders of property and mer- 
chants settled there, to the contrary. They assure emigrants 
that their wisest plan is to take their money there to purchase 
their outfit, but I hope few will believe them, for as there is not 
much competition they get prices the very reverse of their 
consciences. It is, nevertheless, a very great place for bargains. 
Sometimes emigrants to California get sick of the journey by 
the time they have arrived at Kanesville, and sell out by auction 
on the street. The ringing of a large bell announces the sale, 
and it seldom fails to collect a crowd. As I said, sometimes 
Veal bargains' may be obtained, but generally articles of the 
most worthless description to emigrants are offered. I saw 
there one infatuated lover of bargains who, although he had 
but one wagon and a sick wife, who would be certain to occupy 
it always, was silly enough to attend these auctions and buy 
up 'bargains' enough to stock a London 'bottle-wop shop.' 
Gambling houses and lawyers abound also. Where there are 
so many wolves there must consequently be a number of vic- 
tims. 

"At Kanesville I was kindly permitted to join the emi- 
grating company. Being ready to move we drove down to 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



29 



Ferry ville, twelve miles distant, and just opposite Winter 
Quarters, at which point we crossed into Indian Territory, 
now Nebraska and Kansas. * * * The camping place on 
the west side of the Missouri was about a mile from the land- 
ing, in the vicinity of two springs, near the site of Winter 
Quarters. I paid a visit to the old place, and found that some 
person had set fire to the last house that remained of the once 
flourishing settlement. From an elevation close by I made a 
sketch of Kanesville (Council Bluffs) and the Missouri river." 

The favorite wife of Brigham Young 
was Amelia Folsom, who was a Council 
Bluffs school girl. For her he built a beau- 
tiful mansion in Salt Lake and it was gen- 
erally known as the Amelia palace. She 
belonged to the Folsom family of Buffalo, 
New York, and was a cousin of Frances 
Folsom, who became the wife of Presi- 
dent Grover Cleveland. She was also 
related to the late Benjamin R. Folsom, a 
pioneer of Tekamah, Burt County, Ne- 
braska. 

For several years, prior to 1888, a nephew of Brigham 
Young was a well known citizen of Omaha. His name was 
Bicknell Young, and he was a teacher of vocal music. He had 
been educated musically in Italy, and possessed a fine voice. 
His teacher was Muzzicato, a celebrated instructor, with whose 
daughter he fell in love and married. Mr. and Mrs. Young 
went from Omaha to Chicago and there opened a studio which 
they conducted for some years. In the course of events Mr. 
Young joined the Christian Science church and soon became 
one of its leading lecturers. 




Amelia Folsom, 

favorite wife of 

Brigham Young 



CHAPTER IV 



FLORENCE 



MORMON OUTFITTING POINT ORGANIZATION OF FLORENCE 

TOWN COMPANY FINANCIAL CRASH LIVELY ELECTION 

AND CELEBRATION ADJOURNED SESSION OF THE LEGISLA- 
TURE AT FLORENCE, AND OTHER INCIDENTS. 

The "City" of Florence played an important part in the 
early history of Omaha. Like Bellevue it was for a time a 
rival of Omaha and was one of the contestants for the capital. 
The town came into existence in 1853, and was located upon 
the deserted site of the once famous Mormon Winter Quar- 
ters. It has already been shown in the preceding chapter that 
the Mormons, after occupying the land for two years, were 
in 1848 ordered to vacate by the Indian agent, to whom the 
Indians had complained of them for cutting timber. There- 
upon most of the Mormons recrossed the river to Iowa and 
lived among the ravines in the bluffs and at Kanesville. 
However, when they had completed their arrangements to 
emigrate to Utah, they made Florence the starting point for 
all their Salt Lake wagon trains. 

It was upon the suggestion of Colonel Peter A. Sarpy 
the American Fur company's trader at Bellevue, that James 
C. Williams decided to establish a new town upon the site of 
Winter Quarters. He accordingly employed a surveying party 
under Colonel Pleyall and laid out the town in the fall of 
1853. The resettlement of the place began immediately there- 
after, and in the spring of 1854 there was quite an immigra- 
tion. Among the newcomers during 1854 were Philip Chap- 
man, J. B. Stootsman, B. R. Pegram, J. M. Parker, J. C. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 31 

Mitchell and others who were interested in laying out the 
village, organizing the Florence Land company, and in other 
ways promoting the general welfare of the place. In the fall of 
1854 the village was resurveyed and platted into 270 blocks, by 
L. F. Wagner, a surveyor. Buildings were erected rapidly and 
Florence had a bright outlook. A great many of the build- 
ings put up during the fall of 1854 were constructed by Sam- 
uel Forgey and Mr. Driver, carpenters. About this time the 
Florence bank was established by J. M. Parker. Florence was 
named by Mr. J. C. Mitchell in honor of Miss Florence Kil- 
bourn, a niece of Mrs. Mitchell. 

It was expected that the Mississippi & Missouri railroad, 
now the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, would cross the river 
at Florence, as it was claimed that this was the easiest and most 
practicable place for the construction of a bridge. The first 
survey of the road was made down the Pigeon valley, with 
Florence as the objective point, on the west side of the river; 
but the route was changed to Council Bluffs. 

In 1856 the Florence town company was organized, the 
banking house of Cook, Sargent & Parker, of Davenport, 
Iowa, being heavily interested in it. In consequence of the 
energetic efforts made by this firm, the village, which had been 
chartered as a city in 1856, kept on growing quite rapidly 
until the winter of 1857-58, when Cook, Sargent & Parker 
failed, as did nearly every banking house in the country dur- 
ing the memorable financial crisis of that period, and then the 
town began to go backward. 

The Bank of Florence was located in a two-story brick build- 
ing, now occupied by a modern Bank of Florence. The origin- 
al "Bank of Florence" sign has never been removed. The 
present bank for several years had for its president, J. B, 
Brisbin, a brother-in-law of the laic Fred Parker, the hernvt 
artist. Fred Parker was the son of the Davenport Parker 
who left quite an extensive estate, which included several hun- 
dred acres of land between Omaha and Florence, a large por- 
tion of which is now known as Minnc Ltisa, a beautiful resi- 
dence district built up recently through the efforts of I harlcs 
W. Martin. 

A Florence claim club was organized, and it acted in the 



32 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

same manner as similar clubs elsewhere in the early days 
of the territory. 

Among the people of Florence the Germans were very 
numerous, and in 1856 and 1857 they had a theater in full 
operation, and went so far as to attempt the presentation of 
Schiller's "Robbers." 

On the 4th of July, 1857, one Biggs, a blacksmith, stabbed 
and killed a man named Kingsley, who had been too 
friendly with Biggs' wife. Biggs gave himself up to Dr. Heath, 
the mayor, who turned him over to the sheriff at Omaha. The 
sheriff allowed Biggs to take a swim in the river, and crossing 
over to the Iowa shore he never came back. 

In August, 1857, an election was held in the territory, and 
Florence gave Fenner Ferguson, who was running for dele- 
gate to congress, 700 votes. When the news came that Fergu- 
son had been elected over John M. Thayer and other candi- 
dates, a grand jubilee was held in Florence. An iron cannon 
exploded, killing Dr. Hardcastle, who had served in the Mexi- 
can war. 

In the winter of 1857-58 a singing society and a brass 
band were organized. A newspaper, called The Courier, was 
published there, but it could not have been in a very flourish- 
ing condition, for a ball w r as given in its behalf, from w T hich 
only $40 was realized. 

During the same winter the legislature in Omaha broke 
up in a row and adjourned to Florence, and there held its ses- 
sion in two adjoining stores, formerly occupied by Baugh and 
Heath & Graeter. Over the rear doors of these stores was 
painted a sign, "Terms Cash," which, it is said, scared away 
many applicants for bridge, ferry, and other charters. 

These two buildings were afterwards removed to Omaha 
and were occupied by Dewey & Stone, furniture dealers, 
until the year 1875, when they tare them down and erected in 
their place one of the largest brick business houses in the 
city at that time. This was the first four-story business struc- 
ture in Omaha. It is numbered 1115-1117 Farnam street, and 
it was in this building that the first hydraulic elevator in Oma- 
ha was installed, soon after the opening of the waterworks in 
1881. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 33 

Up to about the year 1863 the Mormons contributed a 
great deal to the prosperity of Omaha merchants, who fur- 
nished the emigrants with large quantities of supplies. Me- 
geath & Co., who carried on a large mercantile business, ran 
delivery wagons from their store to the Mormon establishments 
in Florence, and when the Mormons outfitted their trains for 
Salt Lake this firm sold them immense bills of goods, which 
frequently ran as high as $2,000 a day. Joseph Young, nephew 
of Brigham, very often announced in church that the Mormons 
could find at the store of Megeath & Co. anything that they 
needed, and could secure the same upon the most reasonable 
terms. After the Mormon emigration ceased for the year, 
generally about the last of July, the last train out, which was 
called "the church train," would take the balance of the en- 
tire stock of Megeath & Co.'s merchandise. 

Megeath & Co. continued to do business with the Mor- 
mons during the construction of the Union Pacific railroad. 
They carried on a forwarding and commission business, and 
moved along with the terminus of the road, having for that 
purpose several portable warehouses for the storage of their 
goods. Their trade with the Mormons amounted to between 
$1,000,000 and $2,000,000 a year. 

In 1883 ex-Mayor Deland of Florence, then in his 
eightieth year, said to the writer of this history: "Twenty- 
seven years ago (1856) I located at Florence. There was a 
time when that place was a large city, and there was almost 
as much difference between Florence and Omaha as there is 
now between Omaha and Florence. The Mormons were at 
Florence when I came there. Brigham Young had gone west, 
but his house stood in front of my place, and a little tree which 
he planted there has grown to mammoth proportions. I am 
about the only one left of the pioneers of Florence." 

The suburb of Florence was annexed to Omaha June 7, 
1917, and is now one of the most attractive sections of the 
city. 



CHAPTER V 



BELLEVUE 



AN HISTORIC SPOT ONCE THE RIVAL OF OMAHA THE AMERI- 
CAN FUR COMPANY'S TRADING POST COLONEL PETER A. 

SARPY THE INDIAN MISSION THE PALLADIUM, THE FIRST 

NEWSPAPER PRINTED IN NEBRASKA CREATION OF SARPY 

COUNTY. 

The history of Omaha would be incomplete without a 
chapter devoted to the old town of Belle vue. When the terri- 
tory of Nebraska was organized Bellevue was one of Omaha's 
most powerful rivals in the spirited contest for the capital, 
and, even after it was located at Omaha, Bellevue entered into 
nearly every capital-removal scheme that was afterwards pro- 
jected. At one time when the permanent location of the initial 
point of the Union Pacific hung tremblingly in the balance. 
Bellevue came very nearly snatching the prize from Omaha. 
Although work had been begun at Omaha, and the citizens 
had made liberal donations to the company, operations were 
stopped in this city, and steps were actually taken to move 
everything to Bellevue, from which point it was proposed to 
start the construction of the road. The reason assigned for 
the proposed change was that the Bellevue route afforded a 
much easier grade, and would permit the road to be built 
much more rapidly, and enable the company to complete the 
first one hundred miles within the time required by law to se- 
cure the land subsidy. The citizens of Omaha made a most 
vigorous protest against the contemplated action, and finally 
succeeded in defeating the scheme. While this question was 
in doubt, which was only for a short time, Omaha stock was 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



35 



considerably depressed and Bellevue enjoyed a little boom. 

Bellevue's early history reaches back to 1804. It was on 
July 22nd of that year that Lewis and Clark, the explorers, 
camped on the Bellevue plateau. The next year a Spanish ad- 
venturer, named Manuel Lisa, as the story goes, gave the 
place its name. Upon first viewing the spot he greatly admired 
its beautiful location and exclaimed : "Belle vue!" — a beautiful 
view. The American Fur Company — consisting of John Jacob 
Astor of Xew York and Pierre Choteau of St. Louis — in 
1810 established a trading post at this point, Francis Deroin 




TriiiliiiK |)o*t of the A iiK'ririni I'nr 4-0111 pan y nt llHIcviie. the first p<*r- 

miiiK'iit irhlte settlement ■■> Nebraska, 

being placed in charge, lie was succeeded by Joseph Roubi- 
deaux, who was widely known throughout the Missouri valley, 
and all over the western country. He was generally called 
"( M Joe," and in later years he founded the city of St. Joseph, 
Missouri. John Cabanne was the successor of Roubideaux, 
and held the position of trader at Bellevue from 1816 to 1823, 
when he was superseded by Colonel Peter A. Sarpy. In 1823 
the Indian agency was located at Bellevue, it being removed 
from Calhoun, otherwise known as Fori Atkinson, where 

Lewis and Clark, in 1804, had held a council with the Indians. 

Attcr the removal of the agency it was referred to in the gov- 
ernment reports as the "Council Bluffs Indian agenc) at Bclle- 
\\w" It now became a very important trading post The 



36 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 




Indians for hundreds of miles in every direction came to Belle- 
vue to dispose of their furs and make purchases. Colonel Sar- 
py, who continued as trader for the American Fur company 
from 1823 until after 1855, was the principal man in this part 
of the country during all those years. He was frequently 
called Ne-Ka-Gah-He, or Big Chief. He was an eccentric and 
interesting character. The Omaha Herald, of December 8, 
1874, published some reminiscences of Colonel Sarpy, written 

over the signature of "Duncan." The corre- 
spondent, who first met Colonel Sarpy in the 
spring of 1855, described him to be at that 
time a man of about fifty-live years of age, 
rather below the medium height, with black 
hair, dark complexion, well-knit and com- 
pact features. He was a fluent and enter- 
taining talker, his manners were polished, 
and in the presence of the fair sex he was 
very polite and rerlned in his conduct. He 
was always welcome in the wigwams of the 
Omahas and other Indians encamped in the 
vicinity of the trading post. Colonel Sarpy 
had an Omaha Indian wife, Nokome by name. It is said that 
on more than one occasion she saved his life when attacked by 
hostile Indians. Nokome was a woman of great influence 
among her people, whom she frequently feasted in the most 
liberal manner at the expense of the Colonel, who never found 
fault with her on that account. 

The writer in The Herald gives a good illustration of the 
character of Colonel Sarpy. During a general conversation 
in the main room of the Bellevue trading post, one evening in 
1855, he portrayed in glorious colors the noble traits of the 
Indians, and denounced the injustice and wrongs which they 
had suffered at the hands of the whites, who had by means of 
one-sided treaties deprived them of their lands. He was rather 
rudely interrupted by a stranger, who said: 

"This talk about the Indians, as good, brave and intelli- 
gent, may suit you traders, who have been enriched by ex- 
changing your gewgaws for their valuable buffalo robes, but 
I have lived among them, too, and I know them to be a lying. 



Peter A. Sarpy 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 37 

thieving, treacherous race, incapable of distinguishing right 
from wrong, and the sooner they are exterminated the better 
it will be for the country." 

Colonel Sarpy walked up to the stranger and said to him 
in a very excited manner: "Do you know who I am, sir? T 
am Peter A. Sarpy, sir, the old horse on the sand-bar, sir! If 
you want to fight, sir, I am your man, sir; I can whip the devil, 
sir! If you want satisfaction, sir, choose your weapons, sir! 
bowie-knife, shot-gun or revolver, sir! I am your man, sir!" 
Thereupon he whipped out his revolver and fired at a candle 
on a table, about ten feet distant. The bullet extinguished the 
light, leaving the room in darkness, under cover of which the 
frightened stranger made his escape. 

Colonel Sarpy had a white wife — Mrs. Robinson — whose 
home was at St. Mary's, a village on the Iowa side of the 
Missouri river, four miles south, which was washed away 
many years ago. During the last four years of his life he made 
his home in Plattsmouth, where he died in January, 1865. His 
remains were some time subsequently taken to St. Louis by 
his relatives. 

Bellevue was for a long time an Indian missionary post. 
As far back as 1834, Rev. Moses Merrill, who died the next 
year, erected a mission house among the Otoes. Rev. John 
Dunbar and Samuel Allis, who were sent out in 1834 by the 
Presbyterian board of missions, attempted to conduct a school 
at Council Point, near the site of La Platte, but being annoyed 
and harassed by the Sioux they returned to Bellevue and there 
taught the Indian children at the agency. Rev. Edward Mc- 
Kinney was ordered to Bellevue in the fall of 1S46 by the 
Prebyterian board of missions. Mr. McKinney built a log cabin 
for his headquarters, and the next spring he was visited by 
Walter Lowrie, secretary of the board, who formally estab- 
lished the mission. \ new mission house was completed in 
1848, and a school was opened for the instruction of the In- 
dians. The school was in charge of Mr. I). E. Reed. In 1855, 
after the removal of the Indians. Rev. William Hamilton con- 
verted the mission building into a Presbyterian church. The 

next year a church building was erected. It is still standing, as ;i 
landmark of the early days, and is still used f<>r divine servi< 



38 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



A large portion of the Mormon and California emigration 
crossed the Missouri river at Bellevue, and during the years 
that this travel continued Colonel Sarpy's ferry and trading 




Mission house at Bellevue, 1S4S, eouverteil into a liotel in 1855, the 
landlord being- James T. Allen, who later eoudueted the Herndon hotel 
in Omaha for a brief period. 

post did a thriving business. The Mormons, however, were 
in many instances in very destitute circumstances, and in such 
cases Colonel Sarpy not only generously transported them 
across the river without charge, but gave them food and other 
necessaries. 

The first Nebraska post office was established in Belle- 
vue in 1849. It was called "the Nebraska post office," but two 
years later the name of this post office was changed to "Coun- 
cil Bluffs," to correspond with the name of the Indian agency. 
All letters mailed there by the California gold-seekers were 
dated "Council Bluffs." There was an agency on the Iowa side 
of the river and it was known as the Council Bluffs sub-agency. 
It will be seen, therefore, that the name "Council Bluffs" had 
been used by several places before it was appropriated by the 
city opposite Omaha. 

The Bellevue town company was organized February 19, 
1854, by the following persons: Peter A. Sarpy, Stephen De- 
catur, Hiram Bennett, Isaiah N. Bennett, George Hepner, Wil- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 39 

ham R. English, James M. Gatewood, George T. Turner, P. J. 
McMahon, A. W. Hollister and A. C. Ford. 

The first territorial officers arrived at Bellevue in the 
fall of 1854. Governor Francis Burt died October 18th, ten 
days after his arrival, and Secretary Thomas B. Cuming be- 
came acting governor. Governor Cuming offered to locate the 
capital at Bellevue in consideration of the donation of one 
hundred acres of land. Rev. Mr. Hamilton, who was in charge 
of the Presbyterian mission, refused the offer, and hence the 
governor convened the first territorial legislature in Omaha. 
Bellevue, however, continued for some time to attract a large 
number of the newcomers. In 1855 the Benton house, erected 
by Silas A. Strickland, was opened by the mayor, George Jen- 
nings, and soon afterwards James T. Allen converted the large 
mission house into a hotel. 

Bellevue has the undisputed honor of having had the first 
newspaper printed in Nebraska. It was called The Nebraska 
Palladium and Platte Valley Advocate. The first fifteen num- 
bers were issued at St. Mary's, on the Iowa side of the river. 
The paper was then moved to Bellevue, where No. 16 was pub- 
lished. Thomas Morton and D. E. Reed & Co. were the edi- 
tors and proprietors. Mr. Morton was for many years the 
editor of The Nebraska City News and was the pioneer news- 
paper man of Nebraska. The printing of No. 16, the first 
number of The Nebraska Palladium published in Nebraska, 
was quite an event and was witnessed by Governor Cuming, 
Chief Justice Fenner Ferguson and wife; Rev. William Hamil- 
ton and wife, of the Otoe and Omaha mission; Major James 
M. Gatewood, of Missouri ; Bird B. Chapman, candidate for 
congress from Nebraska territory; Arthur Ferguson, and other 
prominent persons. The first proof-sheet was taken by Gover- 
nor Cuming and was read by Chief Justice Ferguson. It is 
now among the archives of The Nebraska City News. 

"Thusquietly and unceremoniously," says The Palladium, 
"was the birth-time of printing in Bellevue, Nebraska, cele- 
brated. Thus was The Nebraska Palladium inaugurated into 
the public service. This event, although to some it may seem 
unimportant now, will form an epoch in history which will be 
remembered ages after those present on this interesting occa- 



40 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



sion are no more. * * * As the Indian disappears before the 
light of civilization so may the darkness and error of the hu- 
man mind flee before the light of the press of Nebraska." 

The first column of the last page of this issue of The 
Palladium contains this announcement : "This is the first col- 
umn of reading matter set up in the territory of Nebraska. 
This was put in type on the 14th of November, 1854, by Thom- 
as Morton." Among the articles of this first number were: 
"Newspapers," "Support Your Local Paper," "The Newspa- 
per Press," "Location of the Capital," "Know-Nothing," 
"Bellevue Claim Meeting," besides several selections of mis- 
cellany and poetry. There were also several advertisements. 

The existence of The Palladium ceased on April 11, 1855, 
when the announcement was made that the proprietors would 




First Presbyterian church of Bellevue, erected in lS.*»(j. It la 
the oldest church building: in Nebraska. It still stands, with 
the exception of the steeple which was blown away by a 
tornado in IOCS. 

suspend the issue of the paper "until a sufficient amount of 
town pride springs up in Bellevue to pay the expense of its 
publication." 

The Young America newspaper was the next journal pub- 
lished in Bellevue. It had a brief existence, and was followed 
by The Gazette, which was started by Silas A. Strickland & 
Co. Like its predecessors it was short-lived. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 41 

It is claimed that Bellevue was the first permanent white 
settlement in Nebraska. It also has the distinction of being the 
first pre-empted townsite. The first patent issued by the gov- 
ernment, and duly recorded, was for the "city" of Bellevue. 
The first Nebraska Masonic lodge, Nebraska Lodge No. 1, 
was instituted there. 

Until February, 1857, what is now known as Sarpy coun- 
ty was a portion of Douglas county. Douglas was divided by 
the legislature, and the south half was named in honor of 
Colonel Sarpy. Bellevue was made the county seat, and re- 
mained such until 1875, when by a vote of the people the 
county capital was moved to Papillion. 

An Astorian centennial celebration was held in Bellevue 
June 23, 1910, to commemorate the one hundredth anniver- 
sary of the Pacific Fur company. This affair was held under 
the auspices of the Nebraska State Historical society, which 
dedicated a granite monument on Elk hill. The monument, 
which is six feet and four inches in height, bears the follow- 
ing inscription: 

"Commemorative of the Astorian expedition organized 
June 23, 1810, by John Jacob Astor's American Fur com- 
pany. This expedition discovered the Oregon trail which 
spread knowledge of the Nebraska country leading to its occu- 
pancy by white people. The fur company was instrumental 
in establishing the first permanent white settlement in Ne- 
braska at Bellevue. 

"Erected June 23, 1910, by the Nebraska State Historical 
society." 



CHAPTER VI 



PIONEERS OF OMAHA 



WILLIAM D. BROWNS LONE TREE FERRY MR. BROWN IN 

1853 TAKES UP A CLAIM COVERING THE FUTURE SITE OF 

OMAHA ORGANIZATION OF THE STEAM FERRY COMPANY 

OTHER CLAIMS MADE DURING THIS YEAR A. D. JONES'* 

CLAIM MR. JONES APPLIES FOR A POSTMASTERSHIP AND 

RECEIVES HIS APPOINTMENT IN THE SPRING OF 1854. 

Omaha, as it has been aptly said, had a history before it 
had a name. In the opening chapter of this work we have 
given the history — as much as was in our power to obtain — 
of the spot where Lewis and Clark landed in 1804, and on 
which Omaha was founded fifty years afterwards. The inter- 
vening period is not known to have been marked by any other 
important historical incidents than those already related. 

The majority of the founders or first inhabitants of 
Omaha came over from Council Bluffs and vicinity, where they 
had resided one, two, three or more years. The California emi- 
gration, which had been in progress for three or four years, 
was then at its height, and many of the emigrants who had 
started for the Pacific coast with golden dreams and visions 
lingered by the wayside in Iowa, attracted by the natural beau- 
ties and the fertile resources of that state. Council Bluffs thus 
became the home of a large number who abandoned the idea of 
making the long, tedious and dangerous journey to California, 
and of these there were many who afterwards came to Omaha 
and permanently located here. 

William D. Brown, a pioneer, who had from his youth 
always been a little in advance of civilization in its westward 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 43 

march, was one of the many who started for California during 
the years 1849 and 1850. He had been for several years a 
resident of Mount Pleasant, Henry county, Iowa, of which 
county he was the first sheriff, having been elected to the 
office in January, 1837. He halted at Council Bluffs, and see- 
ing that there was money to be made in the ferry business 
across the Missouri river at this point, to accommodate the 
California travel, which was being ferried at Florence, Belle- 
vue and at other places, he embarked in the enterprise in 1850. 
Obtaining a charter from the Pottawattamie county commis- 
sioners he equipped his ferry line with a flat-boat which was 
rowed with oars. This ferry was for a long time called the 
Lone Tree ferry, from a solitary tree on the Nebraska side 
of the river, at which the boat arrived and departed. 

Notwithstanding his poor facilities for transportation 
the ferry business proved a profitable undertaking for Mr. 
Brown, the pioneer ferryman, who was also the first pioneer 
of Omaha. He was also engaged at the same time in the hotel 
business at Council Bluffs, being for some time a half partner 
in the Bluff City house. 

The beautiful and commanding position of the future site 
of Omaha; its plateau, where now stands the business portion 
of the town; its numerous hills, especially Capitol hill, one 
and all now thickly dotted with handsome residences and pic- 
turesque grounds; all these attractive features combined to im- 
press upon the far-seeing Brown the fact that this spot was 
destined to be the location of a great city at some day. "West- 
ward the star of empire takes its way." The great tide of 
travel was then, as it is now, towards the west. It was a well- 
known fact that for years the cities on the line of the western 
emigration which were located on the west bank of the streams 
had always soon eclipsed those on the east bank in growth. 
The site of Omaha was near the river, and at that time the 
head of navigation on the Missouri. These facts also had 
great weight with the men who were to found the city. 

Mr. Brown, while superintending his ferry, frequently 
crossed to the Nebraska shore and looked over the location 
of the proposed town, the idea of starting which originated 
with himself, lie made a claim in 1853. which about covered 



44 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

the town site as it was afterwards laid out. His claim was the 
first made, and it was located at a time before any treaty was 
effected with the Indians, which important event did not tran- 
spire till the next year. 

Mr. Harrison Johnson, one of Omaha's old settlers, says 
in his "History of Nebraska," published in 1880: "To Wil- 
liam D. Brown, of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, it is generally conceded, 
belongs the honor of being the first white settler to stake a 
claim on the plateau now occupied by the city of Omaha." 

Of course many of the people of Council Bluffs, who 
afterwards located in Omaha, undoubtedly took advantage of 
Mr. Brown's ferry to visit this lovely spot, either in excur- 
sions for pleasure, or in small prospecting parties to get an 
idea of the situation with a view of making claims, and of 
carrying out, at the earliest practicable moment, the project 
of Mr. Brown — which he had imparted to others — of found- 
ing a town, the future great city of the Missouri valley. 

Among those, besides Mr. Brown, who favorably con- 
sidered the enterprise were Dr. Enos Lowe, Jesse Lowe, Jesse 
Williams, and Joseph H. D. Street, all of whom resided at 
Council Bluffs. This was in June, 1853, and on July 3rd, 
a steam ferry company, under the name of the Council Bluffs 
& Nebraska Ferry company, was organized under the gen- 
eral corporation laws of Iowa, the charter to continue twen- 
ty years. The president was Dr. Enos Lowe, and the other 
members were Tootle & Jackson, S. S. Bayliss, Joseph H. D. 
Street, Bernhart Henn, Jesse Williams, Samuel R. Curtis, Mr. 
Tanner, C. H. Dowms, and others. A substantial steam ferry- 
boat — the General Marion — was purchased in Alton, Illinois, 
by Dr. Lowe. It reached Council Bluffs in September, 1853, 
but did not begin running regularly across the river from that 
point until May, 1854. It was "of ample power and dimensions 
to clear the track from day to day," as we learn from an old 
newspaper advertisement. 

Mr. Brown, not having means enough to carry out his 
scheme alone, had previously sold six-eighths of his ferry in- 
terest and of his claim to a majority of the above men, and 
the organization of the ferry company was the result, Mr. 
Brown still retaining his two-eighths interest. He afterwards 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 45 

sold one of his eighths to S. R. Curtis, who did not comply 
with the terms of purchase. The land included in this share 
was accordingly reclaimed by Brown. Curtis, in the course of 
events, set up his claim to it again, and the result was, in after 
years, a long and tedious law-suit, which was finally com- 
promised. 

Among those who crossed the river in 1853 to prospect 
were A. D. Jones, Thomas Allen and William Allen, who came 
over in November in a leaky scow, borrowed from Mr. Brown. 
One rowed, one steered, and the other had all he could do to 
bail out the water as fast as it came in. They landed a short 
distance below the point where the Union Pacific bridge 
stands. They there staked out their claims, the north line of 
Mr. Jones' claim being marked out on the north side of the 
former residence of the late Herman Kountze, which was 
converted some years ago into St. Catherine's hospital. Mr. 
Jones maintained that this was the first claim, and that he was 
entitled to the honor of being called the pioneer squatter and 
first settler. 

"It was in November, 1853, that I came to the conclusion 
that it was time to make a strike on the Nebraska side of the 
river," said Mr. Jones to the writer of this history in 1888, 
"and I accordingly made a proposition to Thomas and Wil- 
liam Allen to cross the river and take up some claims. The 
Aliens were sub-contractors in the construction of the grade 
for the Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry company. They 
agreed with me, and procuring a scow from William D. Brown 
we made the trip. We camped out that night, and early next 
morning we started out to mark our claims. With a hatchet I 
blazed a corner tree near our camp, and stamped the initials 
of my name thereon with a survey-marking iron. T then blazed 
lines north to the place occupied by Herman Kountze's resi- 
dence, thence south to C. F. Goodman's place, which I wished 
to include in my claim as it was a very prominent location. I 
next marked a corner on the ridge east of Tenth street, and 
thence proceeded eastward, blazing live trees, until T reached a 
deep ravine heavily timbered with tall trees. I gave the name 
of Purgatory to the valley, by which name it was long after- 
Wards known. In the lower end of the ravine I discovered a 



46 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

bed of excellent building stone of lime formation. Upon re- 
gaining the plateau I located my fourth corner, and marked 
a line along the margin of the plateau to the place of begin- 
ning. The next step was to lay my claim foundations, which 
was regularly done, in compliance with all the requisites for 
making a good and valid claim according to the laws and cus- 
toms among squatters in other new sections of the public do- 
main. Meantime the Aliens each marked out a claim, after 
which we returned to Council Bluffs. I claim that this was 
probably the first survey ever made in Douglas county." 

In anticipation of the extinction of the Indian title in the 
near future, Mr. Jones soon afterwards resurveyed his 
claim, and took every possible step to confirm his rights. The 
Indians, however, became uneasy over the encroachments be- 
ing made by Mr. Jones and others, and they accordingly re- 
quested Mr. Hepner, the Indian agent, to order him to vacate 
Park Wild, as he called his claim. Other claimants were served 
with the same notice, and the command was obeyed. 

Mr. Jones then applied for the establishment of a post- 
office, a piece of strategy to enable him to hold his claim. The 
application was made through J. D. Test, of Council Bluffs, 
and resulted successfully in the spring of 1854. The corres- 
pondence was as follows : 

Washington City, May 6, 1854. 

Dr. Test : Yours of the 10th ultimo, relative to Omaha 
City post office has been received. I got the office established 
today, and had A. D. Jones appointed postmaster. 

Yours truly, 

Bernhart Henn. 
(Representative in Congress) 
Washington City, May 6, 1854. 
A. D. Jones, Omaha City, Nebraska Ter. 

Dear Sir: Yours of the 15th instant has been received, 
but as the post-route bill has already received final action, I 
cannot carry out your suggestion as to the route from Council 
Bluffs to Omaha City at this session. Perhaps, however, it is 
not necessary, as it is already covered by the route I had estab- 
lished last congress, from Council Bluffs to Fort Laramie, and 
although said route has not been let, you may get that part in 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 47 

operation by petitioning the department to do so ; which course 
I would suggest be adopted at once. If you do so, send me the 
petitions directed to Fairfield, and I will forward them. 

Yours truly, 

Bernhart Henn. 

This then must have been the very first letter directed to 
Omaha City, and that, too, at a time before there was anybody 
living here, and before the town was surveyed. 

The post-office department authorized the employment of 
a mail carrier, who was to be paid out of the proceeds of the 
office. As the funds of the office amounted to nothing, Mr. 
Jones was unable to secure a carrier. He therefore performed 
the duties himself, by carrying the mail, as well as the post 
office, in his pocket or hat. 



CHAPTER VII 



BIRTH OF NEBRASKA AND OMAHA 



PASSAGE OF THE TERRITORIAL ORGANIC ACT IMPORTANT PART 

TAKEN BY HADLEY D. JOHNSON IN THE CREATION OF THE 

TERRITORY HIS REMINISCENCES THE SURVEY OF OMAHA 

FOURTH OF JULY PICNIC, 1854, ON CAPITOL HILL A 

REMINISCENCE BY JOHN GILLESPIE SIGNIFICATION OF THE 

NAMES OF OMAHA AND NEBRASKA. 

The bill organizing and admitting Ne- 
braska as a territory soon followed the ex- 
tinguishment of the Indian title, it being 
passed by congress May 23, 1854, after a 
fierce and angry struggle, the circumstances 
of which were long remembered, as this 
fight was but the forerunner of the efforts 
soon afterwards made to dissever the Union, 
the result being the civil war. The Kansas- 
Nebraska bill, as it was called, was intro- 
duced by Senator Stephen A. Douglas. It 
was a compromise by which the people of 
the territories were given the right to adopt 
or reject slavery. The New York Herald, in 
commenting upon the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska act, 
said : "The passage of the Nebraska bill is one of those great 
events which, in a nation's history, inaugurate a political revo- 
lution and a new cycle in political affairs. It is the triumph of a 
great principle over temporizing expedients of the constitution 
over sectional fanaticism, and of popular sovereignty over 
the usurpations of congress. * * * It is a substantial de- 




Hadley D. Johnson* 
first delegate to 
conuress from un- 
organized territory 
of .Nebraska, elect- 
ed November, 1853, 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 49 

:laration of congress that they have no power over slavery, 
leither in the states nor in the territories, but that in the terri- 
er ies, as in the states, it is a subject which belongs entirely 
;o the people. This is true constitutional doctrine, and the 
institution is a rock upon which the country, the north and 
he south, may securely stand." 

At the annual meeting of the Nebraska State Historical 
society in Lincoln, January 12, 1887, Hadley D. Johnson, one 
)f the pioneers of Omaha, read an interesting paper giving his 
•eminiscences of the early days. That portion of his address 
■elating to his connection with the creation of the territory of 
Nebraska is a valuable contribution to history. 

"As early as 1848 the subject of the organization of a new 
erritory west of the Missouri river was mentioned," said Mr. 
[ohnson, in his address, "and in congress I think a bill was 
ntroduced in that year, but did not become a law; and in 1852 
he subject, having been long discussed, a bill was introduced, 
wit again without result. In 1853, however, the railroad ques- 
ion having been agitated more generally during the preceding 
/ear, during the session of 1852-3, a bill was reported to con- 
gress providing for the organization of the territory of Ne- 
)raska within the boundaries substantially, I believe, now em- 
braced in the states of Kansas and Nebraska. 

"Prior to this, however, some of the citizens of western 
Missouri, and a few persons residing or staying temporarily 
n the Indian country west of the Missouri river, took steps to 
lold an informal election of a delegate who should attend the 
roming session of congress and urge the passage of the terri- 
orial bill. This election, though not sanctioned by any law, 
ind informal, was ordered to be held by a meeting of a num- 
>er of persons in the Indian country south of the Platte fixer. 
a ho fixed a day on which the election was to be held, and 
lesignated certain places at which votes would be received. 
Vmong the names appeared Bellevue or Traders Point. \ 
lewspaper, printed somewhere in Missouri, containing a no- 
ice of this election, accidentally came into my p< »ssessi< >n a few- 
prior to the date fixed for the election. On reading this 
mnouneement I Immediately communicated the news to pmiii- 
nent citizens of I louncil Bluffs, and it was at once decided that 



50 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Iowa should compete for the empty honors connected with the 
delegateship. An election at Sarpy's was determined on. Ar- 
rangements were made with the owners of the ferry boat at 
that point to transport the impromptu emigrants to their new 
homes, and they were accordingly landed on the west shore of 
the Missouri river, a few hundred yards above Sarpy's trading 
house, where, on the day appointed, an election was held, the 
result of which may be learned from the original certificate, a 
copy of which was sent to Hon. Bernhart Henn, member of the 
house of representatives from Iowa, and by him submitted to 
the committee on elections, but for reasons obvious to the read- 
er of the proceedings of congress immediately following, no 
report was ever made by that committee in the case. 

"I may remark here that I consented with much reluctance 
to the use of my name in this connection, and for several rea- 
sons : I was poor and could not afford to neglect my business 
and spend a winter in Washington ; the expenses of the trip I 
knew would be a heavy drain upon my limited exchequer, 
besides I had so lately neglected my private affairs by my 
service at Iowa City; however, I finally yielded at the earnest 
request of a number of my personal friends, who were also 
ardent friends of the new scheme, and consented to the use of 
my name, at the same time pledging my word that I would 
proceed to Washington, if chosen, and do the best I could to 
advance the cause we had in hand. In addition to the ballots 
cast for me for delegate at this election. Rev. William Hamil- 
ton received 304 votes for provisional governor. Dr. Monson 
H. Clark received 295 for secretary, and H. P. Downs 283 for 
treasurer. 

"These proceedings at Sarpy's landing were followed by 
various public meetings in Iowa, and also in Missouri, at 
which resolutions were adopted urging the organization of 
Nebraska territory. Meetings were held in Council Bluffs, St. 
Mary's, Glenwood and Sidney, and other places at which the 
action at Sarpy's was endorsed ; earnest and eloquent speeches 
were made by such leading citizens as Hon. W. C. Means and 
Judge Snyder of Page county, Judge Greenwood. Hiram P. 
Bennett, William McEwen, Colonel J. L. Sharp. Hon. A. A. 
Bradford, L. Lingerfelter, C. W. McKissick, Hon. Benjamin 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 51 

Rector, Charles W. Pierce, Daniel H. Solomon, Mr. Downs, I. 
M. Dews, George Hepner, William G. English, George P. 
Stiles, Marshal Turley, Dr. Clark and others. 

"In the month of November Council Bluffs was visited 
by Hon. Augustus C. Dodge, Colonel Samuel R. Curtis, and 
other distinguished citizens of other states, who attended and 
addressed meetings of the people of the town, warmly advo- 
cating the construction of our contemplated railroads, and 
the organization of Nebraska territory. 

"On my arrival in Washington, early in January, 1854, 
I found that a bill had already been introduced in the senate, 
and I think referred to the committee on territories, of which 
Stephen A. Douglas was chairman. This bill provided for the 
organization of the territory of Nebraska, including what is 
now Kansas and Nebraska, or substantially so. I also found, 
seated at a desk in the house of representatives, a portly, digni- 
fied, elderly gentleman, who was introduced to me as Rev. 
Thomas Johnson. He was an old Virginian, a slave-holder 
and a Methodist preacher. This gentleman had also been a 
candidate for delegate at the informal election, and was cred- 
ited with having received 337 votes; he had preceded me to 
Washington, and together with his friends, ignoring our Sarpy 
election, had, through some influence sub rosa, been installed 
in a seat at a desk, as aforesaid, where being duly served with 
stationery, etc., he seemed to be a member of the house. 

"On being introduced to this Mr. Johnson, who appeared 
somewhat stiff and reserved, I alluded to the manner of my 
appointment to the present mission which, like his own, was 
without legal sanction, but was for a purpose; I told him there 
was no occasion for a contest between us for a seat to which 
neither of us had a claim; that I came there to suggest and 
work for the organization of two territories instead of one; 
that if he saw proper to second my efforts I believed that we 
could succeed in the object for which we each had come. 

"After this explanation the old gentleman thawed out a 
little, and wc consulted together upon the common subject. 
Hon. Augustus C. Dodge, senator from Iowa, who had from 
the first been an ardent friend and advocate of niv plan, intro- 
duced me to Judge Douglas, to whom I unfolded my plan and 



52 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

asked him to adopt it, which after mature consideration, he de- 
cided to do, and he agreed that, as chairman of the committee 
on territories, he would report a substitute for the pending bill, 
which he afterwards did, and this substitute became the cele- 
brated 'Nebraska bill/ and provided, as you know, for the 
organization of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. * * * 
I ought, perhaps, to mention the fact that in our negotiations 
as to the dividing line between Kansas and Nebraska a good 
deal of trouble was encountered, Rev. Mr. Johnson and his 
Missouri friends being very anxious that the Platte river 
should constitute the line, which obviously would not suit the 
people of Iowa, especially as I believed it was a plan of the 
American Fur company to colonize the Indians north of the 
Platte river. As this plan did not meet with the approbation of 
my friends or myself, I firmly resolved that this line should 
not be adopted. Judge Douglas was kind enough to leave that 
question to me, and I offered to Rev. Mr. Johnson the choice 
of two lines : first, the present line, or, second, an imaginary 
line traversing the divide between the Platte and the Kaw. 
After considerable parleying, and Rev. Mr. Johnson not being 
willing to accept either line, I finally offered the two alterna- 
tives : the fortieth degree of north latitude, or the defeat of the 
whole bill for that session at least. After consulting with his 
friends, I presume, Rev. Mr. Johnson reluctantly consented to 
the fortieth degree as the dividing line between the two terri- 
tories, whereupon Judge Douglas prepared and introduced the 
substitute in a report as chairman of the committee on terri- 
tories, and immediately probably the hardest war of words 
known in American history commenced. 

"I have omitted thus far in this sketch to record a cir- 
cumstances which perhaps ought to have been mentioned in its 
order, and which was one of the incidents which led me to 
believe that the American Fur company was opposed to our 
scheme, because I felt sure that Missouri men were on good 
terms at the Indian department. 

"When I first called on Colonel Manypenny, commis- 
sioner of Indian affairs, being introduced by Hon. A. C. Dodge, 
and after informing him that my object in calling was to re- 
quest him to take preliminary steps towards making a treaty 



THE STORY t)F OMAHA 53 

with the Omaha Indians for the purchase of their lands in or- 
der to open the country for settlement by the whites, the 
colonel, in a somewhat stilted and pompous manner, replied to 
my request by saying: 'Mr. Johnson, the Omaha Indians do 
not wish to sell their lands, and it would not do any good to 
make the attempt.' As I had heard similar remarks from 
friends or representatives of the fur company I supposed that 
the colonel had received his impressions from that quarter; 
but in answer I said to him : 'Colonel Manvpennv, you are 
misinformed, and are laboring under a mistake, for I know 
positively that they are willing to sell, and I assure you that if 
you will send for some of the principal men of the tribe you 
will be able at once to make a satisfactory treaty with them/ 

"After some little delay Colonel Manypenny, who had 
in the meantime had an opportunity to obtain some more in- 
formation than he was in the possession of when we had our 
first conversation, sent for some of the chief men of the Oma- 
has, who went on to Washington, when, as I foretold, a treaty 
was made and ratified by which their lands were turned over to 
the government, and in the following July were opened for 
settlement, whereupon quite a stampede took place, that is, 
after the Nebraska bill became a law and officers were appoint- 
ed whose duty it became to legally set in motion the machinery 
of a territorial government." 

The time had now come, after the passage of the terri- 
torial organic act, for the ferry company to lay out its con- 
templated town. A. D. Jones was employed to make the sur- 
vey of the site, covering the claim of the company. He sur- 
vived it fmm North Omaha creek t<» South Omaha creek, as 
these small Streams were later called, but which long ago were 
turned into sewers. The Omahas had lived along the former, 
originally named simply Omaha creek, and the Otoes along the 
latter, which was formerly called Otoe creek. The work of 
surveying occupied the greater portion of June, and the first 
part of July. Mr. ( '. If. Downs assisted in the work by carry- 
ing the chain and driving the stakes. The city was laid out in 

320 blocks, each being 264 feel square; the streets 100 feet 
wide, except Capitol avenue, which was made 120 feel wide, 
hut was given no alley between the avenue and Daven- 



54 THE ST( ) R V OF M AHA 

port street. The lots were staked out 66 by 132 feet. Two 
squares were reserved — Jefferson square, 264 by 280 feet, and 
Capitol square, on Capitol hill, 600 feet square. A park of 
seven blocks, bounded by Eighth and Ninth, and Jackson and 
Davenport streets, was laid out, but was afterwards given up 
to business purposes. In making the survey of the town Mr. 
Jones took as his variation that of the section line of Iowa, 
extending from Council Bluffs to the river, and ran the ex- 
terior line with a common compass and filled by the rodding 
process, the base line of Davenport street, corresponding with 
the Iowa section line. 

Before the survey was completed, the Fourth of July, 
1854, was celebrated by a picnic on Capitol hill by quite a par- 
ty of excursionists from Council Bluffs, among whom were 
several persons who soon afterwards located in Omaha. They 
were Hadley D. Johnson, A. D. Jones and wife, A. J. Hanscom 
and wife, William D. Brown and wife, Harrison Johnson. Mr. 
vSeeley and wife, Thomas Davis and wife and children, Fred 
Davis and his sister, who became the first wife of Herman 
Kountze. Addresses were made by Hadley D. Johnson, A. D. 
Jones and one or two others. It has been handed down to pos- 
terity that a general good time, as the phrase goes, was had by 
everybody, and the event lingered long in the memory of those 
who participated. 

Mr. Hadley D. Johnson, in his address before the State 
Historical society, 1887, briefly referred to this event as fol- 
lows: "It may be interesting to you to be informed that the 
first celebration of our nation's birthday, of which I have 
any knowledge as having occurred in Nebraska, took place 
July 4, 1854, (before any whites were permitted under the 
treaty to permanently locate on these lands), on the hill at 
Omaha,- near where the capitol formerly stood, and. as 
near as I can locate it, on a spot now occupied by Daven- 
port street. A small number of persons crossed the Missouri 
river from Council Bluffs, taking a few articles for a picnic. 
I remember that some resolutions were adopted and a few 
brief speeches were made. The stand on which the speakers 
stood was a common wagon owned by my old friend Harrison 
Johnson, who was a member of the party." 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 55 

John Gillespie in The Nebraska State Journal of January 
13, 1887, says : "Now I wish to add to that brief bit of history 
of the early days of Nebraska that Hon. Hadley Johnson, then 
reputed to be Nebraska's delegate to Washington, was called 
upon for a speech. He responded and got up into the only 
wagon on the ground, that had hauled over the baskets of pro- 
visions and two blacksmith's anvils to fire a salute, and after 
firing the salute he commenced a spread-eagle speech, but had 
not gotten very far along when the reports of the anvils 
brought in sight a number of Indians. The women became 
frightened and baskets and anvils were piled into the wagon 
and the driver started the team for the ferry, followed by the 
entire audience. The result was that that speech was never 
completed. * * * * Your writer was one of the crowd pres- 
ent, and remembers offering the following toast : 

'Nebraska — May her gentle zephyrs and rolling prairies 
invite pioneers from beyond the muddy Missouri river to hap- 
py homes within her borders, and may her lands ever be dedi- 
cated to free soil, free labor and free men.' 

"There was one log cabin erected on the town site of 
Omaha on that day. It was built up to the square and no roof 
upon it. The prairie grass upon the second bottom, where now 
Douglas and Farnam streets are, was very high and it was 
difficult for the ladies to reach 'old' Capitol hill. Your writer 
remembers meeting A. D. Jones, postmaster, who carried the 
mail for Omaha in his hat. He said to me, 'Young man, take 
a claim up there on the hill and it will make you rich some 
day,' but I could not see it. The town of Omaha had been 
platted in the month of June preceding, and lots were offered 
for $25 each, and the town association offered to dt:cd lots to 
parties building if they would commence at once. It was that 
fall that Omaha commenced to grow, but on the day of the 
celebration the United States marshal was on the watch to sec 
that no settlers located in Nebraska pending the ratification at 

Washington of the treaty made with Indians for the lands 
bordering <>n the Missouri river." 

The map of the first survey of Omaha was lithographed 

in St. Louis, and one of the original copies is now in the Byron 
Reed collection in the Omaha public library. In one corner 






56 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

is the following note : "Lots will be given away to persons 
who will improve them. Private sale will be made on the prem- 
ises. A newspaper, The Omaha Arrow, is published weekly 
at this place ; a brick building, suitable for the territorial legis- 
lature, is in process of construction, and a steam mill and brick 
hotel will be completed in a few weeks." Dated, September 
1, 1854. 

Whence came the name of Omaha? The late General 
Estabrook is our authority for saying that it was probably 
adopted by the ferry company simply because it was * 'pretty* ' 
and was borne by the nearest tribe of Indians in the vicinity, 
the Mahas. It is said by some that the honor of suggesting 
the adoption of the name belongs to Jesse Lowe, while others 
claim that to J. E. Johnson, of Kanesville, is due the credit 
of naming the town. Aside from its prettiness it has a meaning 
full of significance — "Above all others upon a stream!" 

Mr. Jones, when secretary of the Omaha Old Settlers' 
association, long ago extinct, wrote in 1868 to Rev. William 
Hamilton, one of the first missionaries in Nebraska, inquiring 
as to the origin and meaning of the word Omaha. Mr. Hamil- 
ton said in his reply, dated Omaha Mission, March 4, 1868 : 
"The Omahas encamped above on the stream, E-ro-ma-ha, 
contracted into O-ma-ha, which means 'above' with reference 
to a stream, or 'above on a stream.' To understand the word 
I must add that they have three words translated 'above.' 
Mangre, with reference to height, air ; A-mer-e-ta, with refer- 
ence to a country bordering on or near a stream ; E-ro-ma-ha, 
with reference to where your position is." 

Hence the natural inference is that Omaha is "E-ro-ma- 
ha — above all others upon a stream." In connection with the 
name of Omaha there is a tradition that two tribes of Indians 
had a great many years ago met on the Missouri river, and 
had engaged in a hostile encounter, in which all on one side 
were killed except one, who had been thrown into the stream. 
Rising suddenly from what was thought to be a watery grave, 
he lifted his head above the surface, and pronounced the word 
"Omaha," which had never been heard before. Those who 
heard it adopted it as the name of their tribe. What became of 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



?7 



the Indian who had thus added a new word to the Indian lexi- 
con the tradition fails to tell us. 

It will not be out of place here to give the meaning of 
the name of Nebraska. The Platte river was also called the 
Nebraska, an Indian word signifying Ne, water, and braska, 
wide or shallow. So we have "shallow water" as the meaning, 
which is very appropriate as applied to the river referred to, 
and from which the territory took its name. 




CHAPTER VIII 



FIRST INCIDENTS 



FIRST BRICKYARD COMMENCEMENT OF THE STATE HOUSE 

FIRST ACTUAL SETTLERS FIRST BUILDING, THE CLAIM 

HOUSE FIRST PREACHER AND FIRST RELIGIOUS SERVICES 

FIRST SAW-MILL FIRST HALF-DOZEN HOUSES FIRST DANCE 

FIRST WHITE CHILD FIRST MARRIAGE FIRST GRAVE 

FIRST WHITE BURIAL FIRST PHYSICIAN FIRST LAWYERS 

FIRST STEAM FERRY BOAT FIRST DRY GOODS STORE. 

Having laid out the town site of Omaha the ferry com- 
pany's next move was to give it the other important features 
of a town, namely, people and buildings, and it accordingly 
induced Benjamin Winchester, of Kanesville or Council Bluffs, 
to start a brickyard — the first on the west side of the river — 
for the purpose of supplying the brick for the already contem- 
plated building of the state house. The ferry company felt 
very confident, even then, of having its embryo city desig- 
nated by the first territorial legislature as the capital of Ne- 
braska, and it did not go amiss, as after events proved. 

Winchester, being overcome by misfortunes, was not able 
to carry on his contract, and soon sold his yard to the ferry 
company, which was afterwards obliged to obtain the neces- 
sary brick for the state house from Kanesville. 

It was on the morning of the 11th of July, 1854, that 
Mr. and Mrs. Newell came over from Kanesville. Mr. Newell 
had been engaged to work in the brickyard, and his wife was 
employed to cook for the laborers. William P. Snowden and 
wife followed them in the afternoon of the same day. Both 
parties crossed the river on Brown's flat-boat ferry, as the 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 59 

steam ferry boat had not then begun running. Helen Martina 
Snowden, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William P. Snowden, 
and her brother, are residents of Omaha. 

Mr. and Mrs. Newell remained only three weeks, which 
left to Mr. and Mrs. Snowden the honor of being the first 
actual settlers in Omaha, a fact that no one can deny. They 
had come to stay, and stay they did. 

Let it be borne in mind that previous to the arrival of 
the- above mentioned persons there had been no white per- 
sons living here, although there were many who had claims 
staked out. 

Cam. Reeves and family came next, then P. G. Peter- 
son, and others followed rapidly. Many of the pioneers, how- 
ever, did not locate permanently till late in the fall of 1855, 
and many did not come till 1856 and 1857. Although they had 
been on the ground before, more or less frequently, they had 
lived in Kanesville in the meantime. Some did not come till 
after the above dates. 

The ferry company built the first house in Omaha. 
Thomas Allen doing the work. It was a rude log structure, 
and was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Snowden, who kept it as 
a sort of hotel or boarding house during the summer and fall 
of 1855, more especially for the employes of the company. 
M was located at Twelfth and Jackson streets, and was called 
by the high-sounding name of the St. Nicholas, but was better 
known as the Claim house. Besides being the first house, 
this was the first hotel in Omaha. 

According to the late Alfred D. Jones the first religious 
service in Omaha was held in the house of Alexander Davis, 
Jackson and Eighth streets. Rev. Mr. Cooper came over from 
Council Bluffs, at the request of Mr. Jones, and conducted the 

service and delivered a sermon, lie was a preacher of the 

Methodist church, and therefore that denomination can justly 

claim the honor of being the first religious organization repre- 
sented in Omaha. This service was held Sunday. August 13, 

1854. There was a small but appreciative congregation, there 

being not over twenty five persons in attendance, and nearly all 
resided in Council Bluffs, intending, however, to remove t i 
Omaha in a short time. Among those present were Mr. and 






60 THE STORY OF OMAHA 



Mrs. Snowden, Mr. Jones, who led the singing, Mr. Leonard 
and wife, and Alexander Davis and daughter, the latter two 
men being brothers-in-law of Samuel Bayliss of Council Bluffs. 

Mr. Davis, in company with Mr. Bayliss, built and owned 
the first saw-mill. It was located in the vicinity of a flour mill 
built by John Green on South Eighth street, but which long 
ago gave way to other improvements. Mr. Thomas Davis, the 
father of Fred Davis, afterwards became the owner of this mill. 

The second house in Omaha was built by M. C. Gaylord, 
at Burt and Twenty-second streets. The third was the Big 6, 
a sod-house or dug-out, which was occupied as a grocery 
and saloon by Lewis & Clancy, north side of Chicago, be- 
tween Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets. The Big 6 was a 
very popular resort in those days. 

The fourth house was a log dwelling erected by Mr. 
Snowden, on the west side of Tenth street, just south of the 
spot where was built Turner Hall, now occupied for business 
purposes. The lot was given to Mr. Snowden by the ferry 
company on condition that he would build on it. It was the 
first private dwelling house that was completed, and Mr. and 
Mrs. Snowden moved into it after having kept the St. Nicholas 
for three months. The pioneers had a house-warming there, 
"tripping the light fantastic toe" with grace and agility. Quilts 
and aprons answered the purposes of doors and windows, and 
for seats they had rough boards. It was a very primitive affair. 
Quite a goodly number of persons assembled to join in the 
festive dance. Among those in attendance, besides Mr. and 
Mrs. Snowden, were Mr. Jones, Ed. Burdell, who afterwards 
built the City hotel, at the southwest corner of Eleventh and 
Harney streets, Alexander Davis and daughters, and Mr. 
Leonard and wife. Mr. Leonard, who was an amateur fiddler, 
furnished the music for the occasion and did the "calling off." 
The ball opened with the "French Four," a popular figure in 
those days. It was led by Mr. Snowden and Mr. Jones. Mr. 
and Mrs. Snowden lived in this house for two years, and the 
building was standing up to 1870. The ferry company had 
offered a lot to the first woman who settled in their new town. 
Mrs. Snowden in due time secured the prize and afterwards 
disposed of it. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 61 

The next house was built by P. G. Peterson, on the west 
side of Tenth street, between Farnam and Harney. Mr. A. J. 
Poppleton, by the way, opened the first law office in Omaha 
in this frame building. Its site is now covered by a three-story 
brick block which was erected by Mr. Poppleton. 

The sixth house was erected by Samuel E. and William 
Rogers, south side of Douglas, between Tenth and Eleventh 
streets. 

In the latter part of 1854, Mr. A. D. Jones built himself 
a residence on his Park Wild claim. About the same time 
Cam Reeves erected a dwelling farther south. Mr. Reeves 
furnished the stone from Mr. Jones' quarry for the founda- 
tion of the territorial state house, capitol, and other prominent 
buildings. 

The state house, which was located on Ninth street, be- 
tween Farnam and Douglas, was the first brick structure. Very 
few of the old landmarks now remain. 

The first case of delirium tremens was that of Mr. Todd, 
who erected a house in the vicinity of the St. Nicholas — it be- 
ing the first frame house or shanty — and stocked it with gro- 
ceries, dry and wet, principally the latter, whisky being his 
chief article of trade. He was his own best customer. Alcohol- 
ism carried him off, and gave to him the honor of being the 
first dipsomaniac to die in Omaha. He was buried near the 
intersection of Jones and Thirteenth streets. A pioneer wag 
wrote this epitaph : 

"Poor old Todd — he 
Loved too wel] his toddy; 
'Twas the Intoxicating cup 
That made him turn his toes up; 
'Tis sad to think 
He died of drink 
And was buried 'neath the sod; 
Gone to meet his God." 

The first white child born in Omaha was Margaret 
Ferry, who came into the world in the month of October. 
1854. She was the daughter of James Ferry, who laid the 
first stone for the foundation of the state house. 

It is claimed by some, however, thai the honor of being 
the first white child horn in Omaha belongs to William Ne- 
braska Reeves. This is disputed as he was born in that por- 
tion of the city now known as Park Wild, which was not then 
within the town limits. 



62 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

The first marriage was that of John Logan to Miss Car- 
oline Mosier, November 11, 1855, by Rev. Isaac F. Collins. 
Mr. Logan was one of the first grocery men of the city. 

The first grave in Omaha was dug by William P. Snow- 
den, at the southwest corner of Tenth and Howard streets, 
for the remains of an old Otoe squaw, who had been aban- 
doned to die by the roadside. How appropriate are the words of 
Whittier : 

"Behind the scared squaw's birch canoe 

The steamer smokes and raves; 
And city lots are staked for sale 

Above old Indian graves." 

The first burial among the whites was that of Mr. M. C. 
Gaylord's child, at a spot on Capitol hill, some little distance 
northwest of the high school grounds. The remains were 
taken up a few years later and reburied elsewhere. 

Dr. George L. Miller was the first physician. He came 
here in the fall of 1854 from Syracuse, New York, accom- 
panied by his father, Colonel Lorin Miller. Dr. Miller's first 
patient was an Omaha Indian papoose, and it is said that the 
child died. The doctor, upon being summoned to attend the 
case, answered the call with alacrity, being guided to the camp 
on the bottoms by the redskin who had been sent for that pur- 
pose. The doctor's account of the affair is as follows : "Exact- 
ly how the aforesaid brave jumped from the path and dis- 
appeared in the grass without a word of explanation, not even 
so much as a grunt ; how moments seemed hours that we stood 
speechless and motionless, 'each particular hair' sadly agitated 
at the roots, waiting for his return or for death, or for what- 
ever else might come; how he did return, and with the wave 
of the hand beckoned us to follow on among the wigwams, 
and how we followed accordingly, not daring to run, until 
we reached the right one; how Mr. Indian shot through the 
triangular door, like the arrow from the bow; and how dili- 
gently the medicine man struggled to get through the little 
opening, by main strength and awkwardness, and finally did 
it; precisely how powerful was the sense of relief from ugly 
creeping sensations around the head and throat, when a unani- 
mous grunt from two squaws and the three bucks gave him 
a welcome, with smiles, to a cushion on the ground, as a seat 
<>!" state; how the inevitable pipe and kinnikinnick was passed 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 63 

from the mouths of the aforesaid Indians (who had just dined 
on dog-soup), to our own; and how sweet was the taste of 
friendship through its fumes, we cannot stop to particularize. 
It was the case of a young physician, just out of city life, 
practicing among the Indians for the first time." 

A. J. Poppleton and O. D. Richardson were the first 
practicing lawyers, and both took an active part in making the 
first laws of the territory, as they were members of the first 
legislature, in which they did good work for Omaha. Mr. 
Richardson arrived here in October, 1854, and was soon fol- 
lowed by Mr. Poppleton, both coming from about the same 
vicinity in Michigan. They roomed together during the first 
winter in Omaha, and therefore have been called the first law 
firm. 

The first steam ferry boat is thus advertised in The Arrow : 

"Attention ! Settlers in Nebraska : The General Marion 
runs regularly between Council Bluffs and Omaha City. There 
need be no fear of detention as the boat is in constant readi- 
ness for stock, teams, or foot passengers, with steam up and 
ready crew. Come on, emigrants, this is the great central fer- 
ry ! Hurrah for Nebraska! Ferry Co., June 23, 1854." 

The first dry goods store in Omaha was that of Tootle & 
Jackson; among the other general stores that soon followed 
were those of James G. Megeath & Co., John R. Porter, 
Shields & Carr, and Richards & Co. In 1855 Dr. C. A. Henry 
and James K. Tsh opened a drug store. 

On December 23, 1854, the Omaha City company was 
organized t<» co-operate with the Council Bluffs & Nebraska 
Ferry company in building up the new town. This promotion 
organization had purchased claims adjoining Omaha City 
amounting to 1629 acres. The officers were: James M. Love, 
president ; Jesse Lowe, secretary; and Samuel S. Bayliss, treas- 
urer; and the other charter members were Dr. Knos Lowe. 
Tootle & Jackson, and J. M. Palmer. 



CHAPTER IX 



THE ARROW 



THE FIRST OMAHA NEWSPAPER THE PROCESS OF MAKING A 

WESTERN TOWN J. W. PATTISON, THE FIRST EDITOR HIS 

ROMANTIC MARRIAGE HIS DREAMY PREDICTION JOSEPH 

E. JOHNSON, PUBLISHER OF THE ARROW. 

Among the institutions that aided 
greatly in giving Omaha a more than 
local notoriety in her infancy was The 
Omaha Arrow, the pioneer newspaper 
dated here, the first number of 
which appeared July 28, 1854, soon af- 
ter the survey had been completed. It 
was a four page, six column 
sheet, the columns being 
rather wide. The reader is 
informed in a line immedi- 
ately under the title, that "it 
is a family newspaper, de- 
voted to the arts, sciences, 
general literature, agricul- 
ture, and politics;" its poli- 
tics being democratic. It 
took in a wide field certainly, 
and if these general features 
are any criterion The Arrow 

was a paper that circulated among people of social refinement 
and literary culture even at that early day. 

The Arrow was printed in Council Bluffs, in the office of 
The Bugle, probably with the same type, and hence we find a 




J. W. Pattison, 
editor of The Arrow 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 65 

large number of Council Bluffs items and advertisements in it. 
It was distributed to the few persons in Omaha on the day of 
its publication, and sent abroad as an advertisement of the 
place. It was dated at "Omaha City,'' which reminds us, in 
this connection, of a paragraph in J. M. Woolworth's volume, 
"Nebraska in 1857.'' He says : "The process of making a town, 
and forming a company is very simple. Three, four, or half- 
a-dozen men form a company, claim a tract of vacant land, 
whenever they can find it, give the spot some name with 'city' 
attached to it, as a tail, fill up one, two, three hundred, or any 
number of certificates of stock, and then enter upon their 
traffic in them. This forms a fancy stock which is worthy of 
Wall Street itself. Not that there are not towns gotten up in 
this way, which will have merit. How true is this of Omaha 
City, and Bellevue and Nebraska City and many other towns, 
where lots are of great value, and of towns like Omaha, whose 
stock is yet in market. We speak of these towns called 'kiting' 
towns, and which out here, where land is abundant, answer 
the same purpose as the coal companies of New York." 

So it is with nearly all new western towns. In their in- 
fancy they fly "their kite," to which is attached the word 
"city" as a tail; but when they grow to some size and import- 
ance, when they can speak for themselves, they cut off the 
tail. Omaha retained her tail even up to 1857, and probably a 
year or two later. 

There were only twelve numbers of The Arrow published, 
covering the period from July 28th to November 10, 1854. This 
shows that it occasionally skipped a week, probably when the 
supply of paper ran out, which was not an unusual occurrence 
in a pioneer printing office. The late Byron Reed secured the 
whole series, with the exception of No. 6. He purchased these 
papers from a resident of Salt Lake city, formerly living 
in Omaha, paying $30 for them. He had them bound into a 
volume, and prized them very highly as being among his most 
rare and valuable historical records, which he donated to the 
Omaha public library. 

The first number of The Arrow contains on the first page 
a portion of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, which is concluded in 
the second issue. Turning to the editorial page we find the 



66 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

motto, "The people — the sovereigns of the soil," at the head 
of the first column. 

Pattison was a vivid and entertaining and fanciful writer, 
as some of his articles in The Arrow prove. His salutatory 
editorial was as follows : 

"Well, strangers, friends, patrons, and the good people 
generally, wherever in the wide world your lot may be cast, 
and in whatever clime this Arrow may reach you, here we are 
upon Nebraska soil, and seated upon the stump of an ancient 
oak, which serves for an editorial chair, and the top of our 
badly abused beaver for a table, we purpose editing a leader 
for The Omaha Arrow. 

"An elevated table land surrounds us; the majestic Mis- 
souri just off on our left goes sweeping its muddy course down 
towards the Mexican gulf, whilst the background of the pleas- 
ing picture is filled up with Iowa's loveliest, richest scenery. 
Away upon our left, spreading far away in the distance, lies 
one of the loveliest sections of Nebraska. Yon rich, rolling, 
wide-spread and beautiful prairie, dotted with timber, looks 
lovely enough just now as heaven's free sunlight touches off 
in beauty the lights and shades to be literally entitled the Eden 
land of the world, and to inspire us with flights of fancy upon 
the antiquated beaver, but it won't pay. There sticks our axe 
in the trunk of an old oak, whose branches have for years been 
fanned by the breezes that constantly sweep from over the 
oft-time flower-dotted prairie lea, and from which we purpose 
making a log for our cabin claim." 

The editorial, "A Night in our Sanctum," is reproduced 
to show by way of comparison how truly the predictions con- 
cerning Omaha in the "dream" have been fulfilled. The article 
is as follows : 

"A Night In Our Sanctum. — Last night we slept in our 
sanctum — the starry-decked heaven for a ceiling, and Mother 
Earth for a flooring. It was a glorious night and we were tired 
from the day's exertions. Far away on different portions of 
the prairie glimmered the camp fires of our neighbors, the 
Pawnees, Omahas, or that noble and too often unappreciated 
class of our own people known as pioneers or squatters. We 
gathered around our little campfire, talked of times of the past, 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 67 

of the pleasing present, and of the glorious future which the 
march of civilization would open in the land whereon we sat. 
The new moon was just sinking behind the distant prairie roll, 
but slightly dispelling the darkness which crept over our loved 
and cherished Nebraska land. We thought of distant friends 
and loved ones who stretched upon beds of downy ease little 
appreciated the unalloyed pleasure, the heaven-blessed comfort, 
that dwelt with us in this far-off land. No busy hum of the 
bustling world served to distract our thoughts. Behind us was 
spread our buffalo robe in an old Indian trail which was to 
serve as our bed and bedding. The cool night wind swept in 
cooling breezes around us, deep laden with the perfume of a 
thousand-hued and varied flowers. Far away upon our lea 
came the occasional howl of the prairie wolves. Talk of com- 
fort; there was more of it in one hour of our sanctum camp 
life and of camp life generally upon Nebraska soil than in a 
whole life of fashionable, pampered world in the settlements, 
and individually we would not have exchanged our sanctum 
for any of those of our brethren of the press who boast of its 
neatness and beauty of artful adornment. 

"The night stole on and we in the most comfortable man- 
ner in the world — and editors have a faculty of making them- 
selves comfortable together — crept between art and nature — 
our blanket and buffalo robe — to sleep, and perchance to dream 
'of battles, sieges, fortunes and perils, the imminent breach.' 
To dreamland we went. The busy hum of business from fac- 
tories and the varied branches of mechanism from Omaha City 
reached our ears. The incessant rattle of innumerable drays 
over the paved streets, the steady tramp of ten thousand of an 
animated, enterprising population, the hoarse orders fast issued 
I rum the crowd of Steamers upon the levee loading with the 
rich products of the state of Nebraska, and unloading the 
iruits, spices and products of other climes and soils, greeted 
our ears. Far away from toward the setting SW1 came tele- 
graphic dispatches of improvements, progress and moral ad- 
vancement upon the Pacific coast. Cars full freighted with 
teas, silks, etc.. were arriving from thence and passing across 
the Missouri river with lightning speed hurrying on t«» the 
Atlantic seaboard. The third express train on the Council 



68 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Bluffs & Galveston railroad came thundering close by us with 
a shrill whistle that brought us to our feet, knife in hand. We 
rubbed our eyes and looked into the darkness beyond to see the 
flying trains. They had vanished, and the shrill second neigh 
of our lariated horses gave indication of the danger near. The 
hum of business, in and around the city, had also vanished 
and the same rude camp-fires were before us. We slept again, 
and daylight stole upon us refreshed and ready for another 
day's labor." 

Editor Pattison was a lawyer and a business agent. He 
announced in The Arrow that he was located in Omaha, but 
the fact is that he lived in Council Bluffs. He was married to 
Miss Henrietta Redner, the wedding taking place under a large 
tree near the Elkhorn river. Another wedding was held at the 
same time and under the same tree. This double union was in 
accord with the idea of the romantic Pattison. Some of the 
romance was taken out of the affair as a heavy rainstorm thor- 
oughly soaked the parties. 

Pattison was captain of a militia company at Fontenelle 
at the time of the Pawnee war in 1859. In 1860 he published 
a paper at Sidney, Iowa. Later he was employed on the staff 
of The St. Louis Republic. At the time of his death he was 
secretary of the state of Missouri. He was buried in the ceme- 
tary at Jefferson City, alongside of General Marmaduke. The 
picture of Pattison, accompanying this chapter, is a reproduc- 
tion of a photograph belonging to Mrs. Theodore V. Watter- 
son, his granddaughter, whose husband was connected with 
the interstate commerce commission, and who spent the year 
1917 in Omaha examining the books of the Union Pacific in 
order to ascertain the physical valuation of the road, as was 
done with all government-aided railways. Mr. Watterson is a 
cousin of the late "Marse" Henry, and is himself a newspaper 
man. 

Joseph E. Johnson, who was the publisher and editor of 
the Council Bluffs Bugle, was a partner of Pattison in the 
publication of The Arrow. He not only wrote editorials and 
local items but was the business manager of both papers. In 
addition to these duties he practiced law, solicited insurance, 
operated a blacksmith shop, and conducted a general merchan- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



69 




(Joneph K. Johnson, 

puMisln-r of The 

Arrow 



Iise store. He was a Mormon and had three wives and num- 
erous children, and it was this large family 
that compelled him to keep busy in order 
to support them. Johnson and family de- 
parted from Council Bluffs in 1858 or 
1859, and located at Wood River Center, 
now Shelton, in Buffalo county, Nebraska. 
He took with him the outfit with which 
The Omaha Arrow had been printed, and 
in April, 1860, he began the publication of 
The Huntsman's Echo, and continued it 
until August, 1861. This was the first 
paper printed in Nebraska territory west of 
Omaha and Bellevue. Copies of the Hunts- 
man's Echo were preserved by J. Sterling Morton and were 
presented by him to the Nebraska State Historical society. In 
the issue of November 6, 1860, it is stated that at the election 
in Buffalo county forty-two votes were cast, of which Morton 
received thirty-nine and Daily three for delegate to congress. 
It is also announced in the same issue that Mr. Johnson was 
elected superintendent of public instruction and received the 
highest number of votes for legislative representative of the 
Hall county district. Mr. Johnson besides publishing his paper 
carried on a general store and a tintype gallery. He also culti- 
vated flowers, of which he was passionately fond, and planted 
a vegetable garden and an orchard of apple and cherry trees 
and small fruits. He was a remarkable man in many ways. In 
1 861 Mr. Johnson moved to Salt Lake where he died in 1882. 

The late Hadley I). Johnson maintained that Joseph E. 
Johnson, who was a "pioneer, a rustler, and a man of busi- 
ness," wrote the famous editorial "A Night in our Sanctum," 
and "foresaw, as we all did in those days, a brilliant future for 
Nebraska, as well as other realities which are not dreams, but 
facts, such as railroads without number," etc. The same au- 
thority states that "Pattison was the assistant editor and re- 
porter of The Arrow, and was a popular young man and a 
tenderfoot, who retired to older parts after a short stay in 
Nebraska." 



CHAPTER X 



OMAHA'S PROGRESS 



THE NEWSPAPER AS AN HISTORIAN ITEMS FROM THE ARROW 

DEMANDS OF THE INDIANS SULPHUR SPRINGS THE BIG 

6 COUNCIL BLUFFS AND OMAHA STAGE POSTMASTER 

JONES AND HIS HAT DISTINGUISHED ARRIVALS, GOVERNOR 

BURT AND SECRETARY CUMING DEATH OF GOVERNOR BURT. 

It is a fact that the best historian of the events of any 
particular period in these modern days is the newspaper — it is 
the most faithful chronicler of daily occurrences — and there- 
fore no apology is needed for frequent reference to The Arrow 
as authority, nor for the reproduction of items from its local 
columns, showing the progress of the town during the publica- 
tion of the paper in the summer of 1854. 

Among the other interesting items which 
are found in the first number of The Ar- 
row, July 28, 1854, is the following: 

"Delegate to Congress — It is expect- 
ed that H. D. Johnson and Major Gate- 
wood will be the two opposing candidates 
for delegate to congress." 

The coming man, however, proved to 
be Napoleon B. Giddings, who was elected 
in the fall of 1854 as Nebraska's first con- 
gressional delegate. He was succeeded in 
congress by Bird B. Chapman, who was 
elected November 6, 1855. 

"The Indians," says The Arrow, "re- 
quire $10 from each settler for the right to build and make im- 



jMHEjWi^tft 


$i3k. 






1 




% : : ! 't&*' 


4 


V 

> 




,y 
I 










^mIlj*'\ ot 




mJKk 



Napoleon II, Gi«l- 
illnji*. firsl <lele- 
uiitr to coiiKreNH af- 
ter Nebraska Terri- 
tory hjis organised. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 71 

provements upon the lands for which they have not yet re- 
ceived payment nor relinquished their rights. We consider 
this a just demand, and for ourselves have complied. The 
amount should be paid only to Logan Fontenelle (the chief), 
II. D. Johnson, or ourselves. " 

The survey of Omaha City, as made by Mr. Jones, is 
noticed at considerable length. Mr. Jones was a lawyer as well 
as a surveyor, and we find his "shingle," in the shape of a card, 
hung out among the advertisements in The Arrow. He was 
not, however, regularly admitted to the Nebraska bar until 
there was a bar to be admitted to, which was some time after- 
wards, when he got his certificate on motion of General Esta- 
brook. 

In the second number of The Arrow we find the editor 
"again seated upon the green sward, 'neath the tent of his 
friend, W. Clancy, whose hospitality he is enjoying, with an 
inverted nail keg for a table, and feeling as comfortable as if 
seated upon a soft-cushioned sofa, with all the comforts of a 
fashionable life surrounding him." Pattison, it seems, could 
easily accommodate himself to circumstances. 

Rev. Peter Cooper is announced to preach on Sunday, the 
13th inst., (August) at 2 o'clock P. M., to which the citizens 
of Bluff City are respectfully invited to attend. 

James A. Jackson advertises for "bids to be received un- 
til the 15th of August, for furnishing 175 perch of stone for 
foundation, to be delivered in Omaha, the quarry being about 
one mile from the place of delivery." 

The Arrow of September 1, 1854 in its "leader" on Oma- 
ha City, says that it will be and deserves t<» be the future capital 
of Nebraska, a- a territory and state. 

Even at that early day Sulphur Springs had been dis- 
covered, and was visited by the "old settlers" then as frequent- 
ly as it was in later years by the citizens of ( )maha. its water 
was imbibed with an appreciable relish, as we should infer 

from The Arrow's notice of it. 

A fair idea of the activity and progress of I )maha at this 
particular period, may be obtained from the following ex- 
tract from The Arrow of September 8, 1854: 'The sound of 

axe, hammer and other tools is daily heard in and around this 



72 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

eligible city site. Two stores, both doing a good business, are 
in successful operation, and in a few weeks one of the best 
steam saw-mills in the west will be in full blast. In connection 
therewith the enterprising company proposes starting a good 
flouring mill; the engine ordered for the saw-mill will be of 
sufficient power for both. A good substantial hotel will soon 
be ready for the reception of visitors and boarders. The work 
on the other prominent buildings is progressing rapidly. It 
really does one's heart good to see the young American pro- 
gress and go-aheaditiveness which characterize Omaha City." 

The same paper informs us that "Mr. J. A. Jackson will 
in a few days be in reception of a large amount of good lum- 
ber for building purposes ;" also, "some ten or twelve buildings 
are going up in Omaha City next week. Hurrah ! for the 
march of civilization is playing wild with this glorious country. 
But we need mechanics prodigiously to push along with rail- 
road speed." The sanguine and enthusiastic editor goes into 
ecstasies over Mr. Winchester's brick. He had seen a good 
many brick in his day, but none better than those manufactured 
by Winchester. 

"Our friends, the Omahas," says The Arrow, "express a 
willingness to be removed to their new hunting ground, and 
we sincerely trust steps will be immediately taken to secure 
the much-desired object.'' 

T. Jefferys & Co. announce that their "steam saw-mill, 
two and a half miles from the city, on the bottom, is now in 
successful operation." 

William Clancy in a card respectfully informs the settlers 
in and around Omaha City, that "he is prepared at the sign of 
the Big 6, to accommodate them with any article, provisions, 
&c. — (we suppose the "&c." meant liquid refreshments) — at 
as reasonable rates as may be secured elsewhere," and as a 
special inducement he adds that "a good fresh drink of sulphur 
water, from his celebrated spring, can at all times be obtained 
there." The sulphur water was probably bottled and brought 
down from the spring, as the Big 6 was located on the north 
side of Chicago, between Thirteenthj^and Fourteenth streets, 
and was a popular resort for the pioneers of Omaha who met 
there to discuss matters of public importance and interest, to 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 



73 



hold public meetings, and to sample Mr. Clancy's liquids, espe- 
cially the sulphur water. 

The Arrow of September 22d notices the arrival of "W. 
N. Byers, formerly of Muscatine, Iowa, an old stager on the 
Oregon frontier, who brings with him one of the best solar 
compasses for field surveying in the west. He purposes mak- 
ing our soil his home." 

In 1856 or 1857 we find Mr. Byers associated with A. J. 
Poppleton as a lawyer, the firm being Poppleton & Byers. It 
was in 1859, during the Pike's Peak excitement, that Mr. Byers 
departed for Colorado. 




-ci IiCAGOi t .'jr.- i 

Poatmaater Jones with liin hut for a postofflCC in 1854 

From The Arrow of September 29th we learn that M. W. 
Robinson had put on a tri- weekly line of stages between Coun- 
cil Bluffs and Omaha; and we are informed that "persons may 
receive the Omaha City mail matter for the present from the 
P. M., A. D. Jones, at Mr. Clancy's provision establishment 
every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings, shortly after 
the arrival of the Council Bluffs and Omaha City stage." 

The history of Omaha's early post office, as related by Mr. 
Jones, undoubtedly the best authority on that subject, is quite 
interesting. After carrying it around in his hat for some little 
time he deposited the office in a building which was being 



74 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

erected for a hotel, afterwards called the Douglas house. The 
front portion of this house was built in the fall of 1854 by 
David Lindley, who acted as deputy postmaster for Mr. Jones. 
An axe-box was procured and divided into four pigeon-holes. 
It was then nailed up on the west side of the front room, and 
became the first regular post office in Omaha. A Mormon 
named Frank, who had fled from Florence in consequence of 
an Indian scare, managed the office for Lindley. Frank kept 
all the mail is a bushel basket in the middle of the floor, and 
each man handled the mail at his pleasure to see if there were 
any letters for himself. Mr. Jones, who still held the commis- 
sion of postmaster, finally resigned in favor of Lindley, who 
refused to accept the position. The Mormon Frank was then 
appointed, but he soon sold his business to W. W. Wyman, 
who was then commissioned as postmaster, June 5, 1855. Mr. 
Wyman added a room to each end of Frank's house, in one of 
which the office was kept. The first regular set of letter-boxes 
was then put into the post office. This building, a small frame 
structure, stood on the south side of Harney street, between 
Eleventh and Twelfth. It was destroyed by fire in 1876. 

Theodore H. Robertson succeeded Mr. Wyman April 20, 
1857, and held the office until June 10th of the same year, when 
Wyman was restored to the position. Six months later Robert- 
son resumed the postmastership, and he was succeeded by 
Charles W. Hamilton, March 3, 1859, who served only forty- 
seven days, and on April 19th Wyman was for a 
third time appointed to the office. His commission, signed by 
President Buchanan, now hangs in the Omaha postoffice. Mr. 
Wyman moved the office from Harney street to his own build- 
ing, a two-story brick structure, northwest corner of Douglas 
and Thirteenth streets. That building has been replaced by a 
three-story structure, owned by George Giacomini. Air. Wy- 
man held the post office until April 18, 1861, when George R. 
Smith was appointed and he was postmaster for over nine 
years. 

"The new and excellent steam saw-mill of Messrs. Samuel 
S. Bayliss & Co. will be in operation in a very short time near 
the city site," says The Arrow of September 29th; also, that 
"the foundation of the new state house will be completed in a 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 75 

few days;" and that the "new brick hotel will also be finished 
as fast as brick can be put together. Other buildings are pro- 
gressing finely. Some two or three fine brick houses will ere 
long be started upon the site." 

The Arrow of October 6th, contains a full report of the 
citizens' meeting at the Big 6, September 20th, to prepare a re- 
ception for Governor Burt, and just beneath this report, it has 
the following personal item : 

"Distinguished Arrival. — We stop the press to an- 
nounce the arrival of the Honorable Secretary. Mr. T. B. 
Cuming arrived today. His Excellency, Governor Burt, is 
also expected today." 

The next number, October 20th, is draped in mourning for 
II. Burt, governor of Nebraska, reached Bellevue on the 6th 
inst., in a feeble condition, and since that time has been under 
careful medical treatment," and in the same item the paper 
announces the postponement of his contemplated reception in 
Omaha. 

The next number, October 20th, is draped in mourning for 
the death of Governor Burt, and contains a long obituary and 
resolutions, which had appeared in an extra on Wednesday, 
October 18th, the day on which the sad event occurred. 

The following item from this number will interest Meth- 
odist readers : 

"M. E. Church in Omaha City. — In the late session of 
the Iowa conference, a new district, known as the Nebraska 
and Kansas missionary district, was established, at present 
under the presiding eldership of Rev. M. F. Shinn of Council 
Bluff City, Iowa. The stations are as follows: Omaha, Old 
Fort Kearney. Waukaressa and Fort Leavenworth." 

Two proclamations by Acting-Governor (uming are also 
found in The Arrow of this date — the first being in respect to 

the governor's death, and the second ordering the taking of 
the census, etc. 

The Arrow of November 3d announces the arrival of Bird 
B. Chapman thus: "A few days since with pleasure we met 
with B. B. Chapman, Esq., from Lorain county, Ohio. A 
staunch democrat of the right stamp, and one in whom the 
administration has placed implicit confidence, lli^ talent, ener- 



76 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

gy and gentlemanly deportment will make him scarce of 
friends, &c." 

Whether Mr. Chapman considered this a complimentary 
notice or not, this historian has not been able to ascertain. But 
we imagine that he felt like making that editor very scarce 
about that time for not having seen the error and corrected it 
by substituting the word "scores." 

Notice is made of the sale of the Big 6 by Air. Clancy to 
Mr. Goodwill, "lately from New York." 

The arrival of Dr. G. L. Miller is mentioned as follows: 
"We were agreeably surprised to see the sign of Dr. G. L. 
Miller hanging out at Mr. E. BuddeFs residence in this place 
a few days since. Although but little sickness pervades our 
prairie land we can but congratulate our citizens upon the 
acquisition of a young and apparently well-qualified physician 
to our society. He comes kindly recommended from his late 
practice in the city of Syracuse, N. Y." 

"The work of the state house goes on briskly," says The 
Arrow, "and but a few days more will elapse ere the entire 
wall and roof will be completed. It will be ready for the ac- 
commodation of the body for which it was intended before 
the middle of next month." 

"The large brick hotel commenced here a short time ago 
by Jesse Lowe, Esq., will now go rapidly on to completion," 
says The Arrow. 

The issue of November 10th asks in a long editorial, 
"Who will be appointed governor of Nebraska?" It also no- 
tices the departure of United States Marshal Izard for his 
family in Arkansas, and thinks he would make a good succes- 
sor to Governor Burt. 

The Arrow is assured by Mr. Davis, the contractor, that 
the state house will be ready December 1, and in the same 
connection says, "Our friend, J. M. Thayer, is erecting a neat 
dwelling near by, and to the society of Omaha City his agree- 
able family will shortly be a pleasant addition. Friend Parker 
is putting up an excellent house for his family, and a host of 
others are doing likewise." 

The Fontenelle house receives this notice: "This is the 
name of the large and beautiful brick hotel, now in process of 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 77 

erection at this place. It is appropriately named after the head 
chief of the Omaha Indian tribe, whose hunting grounds, by 
purchase on the part of the United States, we now occupy, and 
after whose tribe this prosperous place is named." 

"We hope to lay before our readers in the next number of 
the Arrow," says the editor, "the full census returns of the 
territory, also the arrangement of the districts and the amount 
of representation to which each is entitled." 

But the next number never appeared ; for what reason 
this historian knows not. The Nebraskian* succeeded it and 
was published in the interest of Bird B. Chapman, who, as al- 
ready mentioned, was elected as Nebraska's second delegate to 
congress. 



'Not* the ipelllng uuii an "f, in n*. i" m til- n. - 

i n would I"- omit t ed, 



CHAPTER XI 



OMAHA WINS THE CAPITAL PRIZE 



FIRST TERRITORIAL OFFICERS DEATH OF GOVERNOR BURT 

CUMING BECOMES ACTING GOVERNOR HE CALLS AN ELEO 

I 

tion and designates omaha as the place for holding 
the first legislature the capital fight omaha vic- 
torious scenes and incidents of the session "scrip- 

town" james c. mitchell locates the capitol 

an indignation meeting at glenwood, iowa 

omaha's champions — izard becomes governor — ex- 
ecutive BALL IN HIS HONOR. 

Francis H. Burt, of South Carolina, was 
the first territorial governor of Nebraska, 
having been appointed in the place of Gen- 
eral William G. Butler, of Kentucky, who 
had declined the honor. The other first ter- 
ritorial officers were : Thomas B. Cumins;, 
of Iowa, secretary; Fenner Ferguson, of 
Michigan, chief justice; James Bradley, of 
Indiana, and Edward R. Hardin, of Geor- 
gia, associate justices; Mark YV. Izard, of 
Arkansas, marshal ; and Experience Esta- 
brook, of Wisconsin, attorney. 
It was on the 6th day of October, 1854, that Governor 
Burt and Secretary Cuming arrived at Bellevue. The other 
territorial officers came at different times in the following 
few months. 

A grand reception had been arranged at Omaha for the 
governor and secretary. The committee of reception was com- 
posed of Charles B. Smith, Alfred D. Jones, W. R. Rogers, 




Francis H. Burt, 
first governor of 
Nebraska territory 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 79 

R. B. Whitted, Michael Murphy, Wm. Clancy, S. A. Lewis, 
C. H. Downs, Wm. N. Byers, and Wm. Right; and the com- 
mittee of arrangements consisted of Thomas Allen, C. B. 
Smith, David Lindley, Alexander Davis, and C. H. Downs. 

But the reception never came off", owing to the 
death of Governor Burt. He came to Nebraska in poor 
health, and continued to fail rapidly until, on the morning 
of Wednesday, October 18, 1854, at half past three o'clock, 
he died in the old Presbyterian mission house in Bellevue. 
of which Rev. William J. Hamilton was the missionary in 
charge. The sad event cast a deep gloom over the entire 
territory. 

Governor Burt was a native of Pendleton, South Carolina, 
and was about forty-five years of age. He left a wife, two 
sons and four daughters. His remains were sent back to 
South Carolina, being accompanied by his son, Armsted Burt, 
and an escort of four pall-bearers. 

Secretary Cuming, by virtue of his office, became gover- 
nor, and at once took hold of the executive reins. His first 
act was to issue a proclamation in reference to the death of 
Governor Hurt, ordering that the national colors be draped 
in mourning, and thai the territorial officers wear crape upon 
the left arm for thirty days. 

His second act was the issuance of a proclamation on the 
21st day of October, 1854, for a census of the inhabitants of 
the territory, to commence ( )ctober24th, under officers instruc- 
('1 l" complete the same, as nearly as possible, within four 
Weeks, alter which notices were to be distributed for the elec- 
tion of a delegate to congress and a territorial legislature. 

The object of the proclamation was to give notice to per* 
sons who had removed temporarily from the territory to re- 
turn in time for the census, as "in no case would names be 
enrolled except of actual and permanent residents of the terri- 
tory." The census was completed November 20, L854, and 
showed a total of 2,732 persons in the territory, excluding 

the Indians, of Course. Vmong the inhabitants enumerated 

were thirteen slaves.* 

•Th e first formal c< of the territoi n order 

thai a r< idju Iment of lei repn entatlvei mlffhl be made Thli 

• the population ai 1,491, <•( which Douglas county contained t." I 



80 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Governor Cuming next issued a proclamation, November 
21st, for an election, which took place December 12th. At this 
election members of the legislature and a delegate to congress 
were elected. Napoleon B. Giddings, who was elected to con- 
gress, received 377 votes, Hadley D. Johnson 266, Bird B. 
Chapman 1 14, Joseph Dyson 3, and Abner W. Hollister 14. 
Douglas county, composed of Omaha City precinct and Belle- 
vue precinct, cast a total vote of 203, of which Johnson re- 
ceived 198 and Chapman 5. 

It was the duty of the governor to convene the legislature 
at some point of his own selection, and the first legislature 
was to fix the location of the capital. He designated Omaha, 
notwithstanding the opposition of the representatives of other 
points, all of whom where straining every nerve and using 
every means to induce him to name their own favorite town. 
A deep resentment towards the governor on the part of the 
disappointed applicants was the natural consequence. Especi- 
ally was this the case among the citizens of Bellevue. That 
place could probably have secured the capital had the donation 
of land, which had been demanded for the site of the capitol 
building, been made. The Presbyterian board of missions had 
a reserve of four quarter-sections at Bellevue, and it was this 
land that was wanted for the capitol. Rev. Mr. Hamilton re- 
fused to give his consent to the purchase of the property for 
less than $50,000. He was offered $25,000 by one of the par- 
ties interested in the capital location, but he referred the 
gentleman to the board in New York. This man attempted 
to make the purchase, but failed to secure the money to com- 
plete the transfer. Old settlers have always maintained that 
Bellevue could have captured the capital had proper induce- 
ments been given to those who held the matter in their hands. 

The legislature met in Omaha on the 16th of January, 
1855, in the state house, which had been built by the ferry 
company in anticipation of this event. 

A large number of men who had been disappointed in 
their endeavors to secure this first meeting of the legislature 
at other towns, in which they were interested, flocked to Oma- 
ha at this time in an angry and revengeful mood. 

J. M. Woolworth, in his "Nebraska in 1857," says in 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



81 



regard to this mob, that "they arrayed themselves in the red 
blankets of the savages and loudly proclaimed their design of 
breaking up the assembly. At the hour for the convening of 
the houses, their halls were filled with these excited and des- 
parate men. But before they were aware of it, resolutions 
assembling the two houses in a joint session were passed ; and 
the moment they had met, the governor entered, and, without 
prologue, delivered to each member-elect the certificate of his 
election, pronounced his message, and declared the assembly 
organized, directed each house to withdraw to complete its 
organization, and vanquished, in half an hour, every design 
either upon himself or the legislature. It was a time when 
anything less than the executive energy of Andrew Jackson 
would have involved the governor in inextricable difficulties, 
and the territory in anarchy." 




Territorial atatc home 

hi his inaugural message to the legislature Governor 
Cuming said that "one of the principal subjects of general 
interest, to which, next to the enactment of your laws, your 
attention will be directed this winter, is that of a Pacific rail- 
road. You have acquired, in respect to this, an acknowledged 
precedence ; and the expression, in your representative capacity 
"i the wishes of your constituents, throughout the vast extent 
"i your territory, may have a potent influence, together with 
the influence oi your friends, in promoting the construction 
"i such a road up the valle) of the Platte. Mam reasons 
lead to the conclusion that such a memorial from you will be 



82 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

of practical efficacy in contributing' to tbe speedy consumma- 
tion of such an enterprise — an enterprise of such absolute 
necessity as a means of inter-communication between the At- 
lantic and Pacific states, and as a purveyor of a lucrative com- 
merce with India, China, and the Pacific islands. Among these 
reasons are the facts that the valley of the Platte is on the near- 
est and most direct continuous line from the commercial me- 
tropolis of the east, by railroad and the great lakes, through the 
most practical mountain passes, to the metropolis of the west ; 
that it is fitted by nature for an easy grade; and that it is 
central and convenient to a great majority of grain-growing 
states." In conclusion upon this subject, Governor Cuming 
urged immediate action in the selection of routes, and he hoped 
and believed that a legislative memorial to congress would 
have its legitimate weight in the decision of a question of such 
momentous interest. 

The location of the territorial capital was the principal 
and most important business before the legislature, occupying 
a large portion of the time that that august body was in session, 
which was from the 16th of January to the 17th of March, 
1855. The remainder of the session, after the settlement of 
the capital question, was devoted to the organization of coun- 
ties, location of county seats, granting of toll-bridge and ferry 
privileges, and passage of a complete code of laws for the 
territory. 

The difficult capital question caused even more bitter feel- 
ing than had Acting-Governor Cuming's designation of Oma- 
ha as the point at which the legislature should assemble. The 
scenes and incidents that ensued during this session were ex- 
citing as well as amusing, and often formed the most 
interesting portion of the reminiscences of some of 
the old settlers, who took a most active part in everything that 
then transpired. They entered into public affairs with a spirit 
that was bound to win. Their brains and hands were diligent 
and active — the former in hatching up schemes to thwart the 
designs of the enemy upon Omaha, and the latter in going 
down into their own pockets and handing out both money and 
town-lot stock to those who were willing to receive such favors 
and reciprocate for the same by voting for Omaha. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 83 

The legislature was largely made up of men who, al- 
though claiming a residence here, had their homes elsewhere, 
and who had acquired their residence by one night's sleep in 
the district they represented. Such men talked the loudest 
about their fidelity to their beloved and confiding constituents, 
whose interests were ever dearest to their hearts. They thus 
amused themselves as well as others, for their constituents 
were scattered all over the United States. On the other hand 
there were a few, and only a few, who actually did reside in 
the territory. 

Mr. D. M. Johnson, of Ohio, who was the "member from 
Archer," had a political ambition that knew no bounds. Elated 
with his success in Nebraska — and wishing to ride two legis- 
lative horses at the same time — he obtained ten days leave 
of absence, and going to Kansas he ran for representative 
there, and was only defeated by a very close vote. 

But the fact that non-residents largely made up the first 
legislature was only one of those incidents witnessed in all new 
countries. 

The following men composed the first legislature — the 
place represented precedes, and the original place of residence 
follows the name of each member: 

Council. — Archer, Richardson county, [. I.. Sharp, presi- 
dent, Tennessee. Nebraska City, Pierce now Otoe county, A. 
A. Bradford, Maine; H. P. Bennett, Maine; ( \ II. Cowles, 
Xew York, Brownville. Forney, now Nefriaha county, Richard 
Brown, Tennessee. Fontenelle, then in Dodge, but now in 
Washington county, M . II. (lark, Xew York. Tekamah, Burt 
county, B. R. Folsom, Xew York. Omaha, Douglas county, 
T. G. Goodwill, New York; A. D.Jones, Pennsylvania; O. D. 
Richardson, Michigan; S. E, Rogers, Kentucky. Plattsmouth 
< ass county, Luke Nuckolls, Virginia. Florence, then in 
Washington county, J. C. Mitchell, Florence. 

Officers of tin- Council. Dr. G. L. Miller, chief clerk, 
Syracuse, New York; O. F. Lake, assistant clerk, Brownville; 
S. \. Lewis, Omaha, sergeant-al arms; X. R. Folsom, IV 
kamah, XYw York, doorkeeper. 

House of Representatives. Omaha, Douglas county, \ 
I. rlanscom, speaker, Michigan; W. X Byers, Ohio; Wm, 



84 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Clancy, Michigan; F. Davidson, Virginia; Thomas Davis, 
England; A. D. Goyer, Michigan; A. J. Poppleton, Michigan; 
Robert Whitted, Tennessee. Fort Calhoun, Washington coun- 
ty. A. Archer, Vermont. Florence, Washington county, A. J. 
Smith, Pennsylvania. Nebraska City, Pierce now Otoe 
county, G. Bennett, Virginia; J. H. Cowles, Ohio; J. H. 
Decker, Kentucky; W. H. Hall, Virginia; Wm. Maddox, Indi- 
ana. Brownville, in Forney now Nemaha county, W. A. 
Finney, Ohio; J. M. Wood, Kentucky. Fontenelle, then in 
Dodge, now in Washington county, E. R. Doyle, South Caro- 
lina, W. A. Richardson, New York. Archer, Richardson 
county, D. M. Johnson, Ohio; J. A. Singleton, Pennsylvania. 
Rock Bluff, Cass county, Wm. Kempton, Pennsylvania. Platts- 
mouth, Cass county, J. M. Latham, Virginia. De Soto, Burt 
county, J. B. Robertson, Ohio. Tckaniah, Burt county, A. C. 
Purple, Massachusetts. Kenosha, Cass county, J. D. H. 
Thompson, Tennessee. 

Officers of the House. — J. W. Paddock, chief clerk, 
Council Bluffs and Omaha ; G. L. Eayre, assistant clerk, Glen- 
wood, Iowa; J. L. Gibbs, sergeant-at-arms, Nebraska City; 
B. B. Thompson, doorkeeper, Omaha. 

Excitement ran at fever heat all the time that the capital 
contest was being fought. The contestants for the prize were 
Omaha, Fontenelle, Florence, Bellevue, Plattsmouth, Nebraska 
City, Brownville, and in fact all the embryo towns south of the 
Platte river. The southern towns were opposed to Omaha 
for the reason that it would be a less formidable rival 
to Plattsmouth without the capital than with it. The whole 
South Platte country was bitterly hostile to Omaha. Thus it 
will be seen that Omaha had a big fight on hand. It was only 
the clear foresight of the founders and their precaution- 
ary measures, which they had taken to meet the anticipated 
struggle, that enabled this city to come out victorious in the 
fierce contest for supremacy. The joint resolution locating 
the capitol building at Omaha was passed February 22, 1855. 

Some of the incidents of the light are worth relating 
"Scrip Town" had been laid out by the owners of the original 
town site of Omaha, as one of the "precautionary measures," 
alluded to above. It was about a half-mile wide, and adjoined 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 85 

the north and west sides of Omaha. The stock was used to 
"induce" members of the legislature. General Estabrook, ter- 
ritorial attorney, who arrived in the territory January 21, 1855, 
is authority for the word "induce," which in this connection 
had a peculiar signification. The scrip was generally placed 
where it would do the most good. But in one case it was mis- 
placed. A leading member of the council had been given a 
number of shares, amounting to about one-twelfth of the scrip- 
town site, to "induce" him to vote for Omaha, such being the 
understanding. He, however, indiscreetly revealed the fact 
that he was going to vote against Omaha, and. as is usually the 
case, it soon leaked out. Omaha needed just another 
vote to make up for this one, which it was going to lose. A 
prominent champion of Omaha said he could obtain the neces- 
sary vote, if he could regain possession of this stock, which 
was to be used for that purpose. A plan was accordingly laid 
and carried out. A shrewd and cool man, afterwards a lead- 
ing St. Louis merchant, proved himself equal to the emer- 
gency, and rescued the scrip from the treacherous hands into 
which it had fallen. He met the individual, as if by chance, 
and said to him: "I forgot to number those papers on the 
books. Let me have them and I'll attend to it at once." The 
papers were accordingly handed over, and that was the last 
ever -ecu of them by the treacherous council member, as the 
person to whom he had given them put them in his pocket and 
walked off, remarking to him that he might help himself if he 
could. ( )f course the councilman immediately comprehended 
the meaning of the transaction, and it is pretty certain that he 
did not vote f< >r ( )maha. 

The scrip was put into the hands of the man who had 
agreed to secure the vote to make up for this desertion, and 
we have it on good authority thai thai much-wanted vote was 
obtained inside of twenty-four hours. 

Towards the close- of the capital fight James (\ Mitchell 

oi Florence, who had been an exceedingly bitter enemy of 
Omaha, was "induced" to abate his hostility by the usual 
means, not then thoroughly known or appreciated by the pub 
lie. 

Mitchell's influence, be it remembered, was sufficient to 



86 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

fix the capital at Omaha, or take it away, and, as he had been 
pursuaded to favor Omaha, he was appointed as a reward and 
by agreement the sole commissioner to locate the capitol build- 
ing within some portion of the city. The northern boundary 
of Douglas county — the county then embracing an extent of 
territory reaching from a ravine on the north side of the city 
south to the Platte river, and west to the Elkhorn — was ex- 
tended, by proclamation of the governor, to include the 
whole of scrip town, in order to give Mitchell plenty of room. 
When the vote was about to be taken in the council he explained 
that, as others, with the same interest as his own, had broken 
their promises to him, it would now be every man for himself, 
and that he would therefore locate the capitol within the city 
limits of Omaha, somewhere on the line between the Clancy 
claim and the Jeffery claim. The line between these two claims 
ran from the Sulphur Springs back to the high ground. He 
was favorably impressed, he said, with the location near the 
Sulphur Springs, and also with that of the high ground far- 
ther back. But he would not determine until further examin- 
ation. 

A short time thereafter Mr. Mitchell stuck his stake for 
the capitol building on Capitol hill, where it was afterwards 
erected. In the summer following Mr. Mitchell advertised 
about sixty lots in the city of Omaha for sale at auction, and 
the lots sold for about $60 each. Y\ nether there was any con- 
nection between Mitchell's location of the capitol and those lots 
we leave the reader to draw his own inference. 

A member from a certain county, in which he had never 
lived, was given some shares in order to "induce" another 
member from the South Platte country to vote for Omaha. 
This man, whom we shall call P., for convenience sake, wanted 
the shares himself, and he accordingly advised the South 
Platte member, Mr. T., to take nothing but money. Acting 
on this advice, T. demanded $1,000 for his vote. One of 
the ferry company's chief manipulators, Mr. J., told T. to go 
in and vote and it would be all right, as he would get the 
money. Next day J. went over the river, and T. never got 
either money or shares. Mr. P., who had retained the shares, 
said they had been given to him to use to the best advantage, 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 87 

and, as he himself was the most doubtful man he knew of, he 
had concluded to purchase himself. 

Several of the members of the legislature were residents 
of Glenwood, Iowa, where a very deep interest was felt in hav- 
ing the capital located at Plattsmouth. Some of the members 
who came from Glenwood failed to vote for Plattsmouth, and 
at the close of the session an indignation meeting was actually 
held by Glenwood citizens to call to account "their representa- 
tives for misrepresenting them in the Nebraska legislature." 

Colonel J. L. Sharp, president of the council, resided in 
Glenwood, and represented Richardson county. He had prom- 
ised, owing to the usual inducements, to vote for Omaha, but 
he cast his vote for Plattsmouth after all, having intended to do 
so from the first. Luke Xuckols, representing Cass county, and 
Dennett and Bradford, representing Pierce, now Otoe county, 
all lived in Glenwood. 

In the house, Glenwood sent Kempton and Latham to 
represent Cas^ county and Thompson to represent Nemaha 
county. Latham, originally a lawyer from Virginia, having 
gone back on Plattsmouth, never dared to return to Glenwood, 
for the people would have lynched him. He died the follow- 
ing summer in Council Bluffs. Thompson, on his return to 
Glenwood, narrowly escaped a flagellation from his outraged 
constituency, whom he had misrepresented. 

Omaha's cause was ably and shrewdly championed in the 
council by O. 1). Richardson and T. G. Goodwill and by A. J. 
Poppleton and A. J. Hanscom in the house. Hanscom, who 

would as -'"»ii tight as eat in those days, was always called 
on when there was likely t<> be any trouble, and. either in fisti- 
cuffs, debate, i >r tactics, he generally succeeded in coming out 

of the affair on the top of the heap. It was he who had been 
selected to undertake the job of getting the control of the 

house of representatives, and be did it. I Ee was elected speaker, 
and thus secured the appointment of committees, winch gave 
Omaha considerable advantage. The following paragraph 
by the late Dr, Miller, for mam years editor of llie Omaha 
Herald, aptly illustrates the earl) legislative ways of Nebraska: 
"Hanscom and Poppleton carried the art of winking to 
its highest perfection in those days. The latter was always first 



88 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

recognized by Speaker Hanscom when he wanted the floor. The 
speaker was particular about keeping order. Any refractory 
member, opposed to Omaha, who refused to take his seat when 
ordered to, was emphatically notified that if he didn't sit down 
he would be knocked down. The result was usually satisfactory 
to the speaker. The excitement over the capital question was, 
at times, very great. The lobbies, we remember, were once 
crowded with the respective parties to the contest, armed with 
bludgeons, brickbats, and pistols. A fight was thought to be 
imminent, but it did not occur." 

Among the members of the first legislature were two Mis- 
sourians who claimed to represent some county in Nebraska, 
both demanding the same seat. One of them was a preacher 
named Wood, who, as chaplain, did the praying for the house 
of representatives. When the contest came up he promised 
Mr. Hanscom that he would vote for Omaha on the 
capital question, if they would give him his seat. He got 
his seat in that way. A day or two afterwards he met Hans- 
com, and putting on a very long face he said : "Mr. Hanscom, 
I am very sorry, indeed, to be obliged to inform you that I 
shall, owing to the force of circumstances, be compelled to 
vote against Omaha!" 

"The devil you say!" exclaimed Mr. Hanscom. "You're 
a damned infernal lying old hypocrite!'' 

"Those are hard words, my dear Mr. Hanscom, but — " 

"I say again, that you are an infernal lying old hypo- 
crite. You're a wolf in sheep's clothing. And, by gracious! 
you've said your last prayer before this legislature. If there 
is any more praying to be done I will do it myself. That's 
the kind of a man I am." 

Hanscom kept his word, and fixed it so that Wood's 
services as chaplain were dispensed with from that day, but 
Wood served out his term as a member of the house. The 
Omaha men, however, made it so disagreeable for him during 
the remainder of the session that he passed anything but a 
pleasant term in office. 

After the settlement of the capital light the legislature 
transacted its other business in a comparatively quiet way. 

I laving secured the capital Omaha was forced at nearly 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 89 

every session of the legislature to fight for its retention until 
1858. From that year the capital question was allowed to rest 
until 1867 when the seat of government was moved to Lincoln, 
the territory having been admitted to the union as a state. 

Mark W. Izard, having been promoted from the office of 
marshal to that of governor, entered upon the duties of chief 
territorial executive February 20, 1855, while this first session 
of the legislature was in progress, filling the vacancy caused by 
the death of Governor Burt. E. I\. Doyle, who had accom- 
panied Governor Hurt from South Carolina, and had become 
a member of the legislature, succeeded Izard as marshal. 

The first and only executive ball ever given in Omaha 
was held in the winter of 1855 in honor of Governor Izard. 
The affair took place in the City hotel, a small one-story frame 
structure, southwest corner of Harney and Eleventh streets. 
This building, after it ceased to be a hotel, was for a time 
occupied as a residence by the late Ezra Millard. After he 
vacated it lie rented it to other parties as a dwelling. The lot 
is now covered bv a four-story business building erected by 
Mr. Millard. 

A reminiscent description of the executive ball was 
graphically given by Dr. Miller, in The Herald, in January, 
1X67. as follow 

"Izard was a stately character physically, mentally rather 
weak, and accordingly felt a lively sense of the dignity with 
which tlu- appointment clothed him. I [e had never known such 
an honor before, and it bore u])i mi him heavily. To the few 
persons who then constituted the principal population of the 

city the governor was careful t<> intimate a desire t<» ha\e 

Ins gubernatorial advent suitably celebrated. The facetious 
.'•nd wary ('inning suggested the idea of giving l/ard an ex- 
ecutive ball. The larger of the tWO rooms which then con- 
stituted the building was the theater of a scene perhaps the 
most ludicrous that was ever witnessed in the history of pub 
he receptions. The rooms had a single coat of what was then 
called pla tei omposed of a frozen mixture of mud and 

ice, a very thin coating at that. The floor was rough and 
enplaned, vers trying t«» dancers, and not altogether safe for 
those who preferred the upright position. It had been ener- 



90 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



getically scrubbed for the occasion. The night being dreadfully 
cold, and the heating apparatus failing to warm the room, the 
water froze upon the floor and could not be melted by any 
then known process. Rough cottonwood boards on either side 
of the room were substituted for chairs. 

"The hour of seven having arrived, the grand company 
began to assemble. Long before the appointed hour his Ar- 
kansas excellency appeared in the dancing hall. He and Jim 
Orton, 'the band,' of Council Bluffs, reached the scene at about 




First gubernatorial ball 

the same moment. The governor was very polite to Jim. who 
was just tight enough to be correspondingly polite to the gover- 
nor. Governor Izard was the guest of nine ladies who were 
all that could be mustered even for a state occasion in Omaha. 
They were Mrs. T. B. Cuming, Mrs. Fenner Ferguson, Mrs. 
J. Sterling Morton, Airs. C. B. Smith, Mrs. Fleming Davidson, 
Mrs. A. J. Hanscom, Mrs. A. D. Jones, Mrs. S. E. Rogers and 
Mrs. G. L. Miller. Two of the ladies could not dance, and 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 91 

j accordingly their places were supplied by the same number of 
gentlemen. The governor had a son by the name of James. He 
was his excellency's private secretary, and wishing to present 
a high example of style he came in at a late hour escorting 
Mrs. Davidson. His bearing was fearfully stately and digni- 
fied. He wore a white vest and white kids, as any gentleman 
would do, but these were put in rather discordant contrast 
with the surroundings. Paddock, Poppleton, Cuming, Smith, 
Morton, Ferguson, Goodwill, Clancy, Folsom, besides a large 
assemblage of the legislators, attended. The latter crowded 
around, gazing with astonishment upon the large number of 
ladies in attendance. 

"Jim Orton was the solitary fiddler, occupying one cor- 
ner of the room. The dance opened. It was a gay and festive 
occasion. Notwithstanding the energetic use of green cotton- 
wood the floor continued icy. During the dance several acci- 
dents happened. One lady, now well known in Nebraska, fell 
flat. Others did likewise. The supper came off about midnight 
and consisted of coffee with brown sugar and no milk ; sand- 
wiches of peculiar size; dried apple pie; the sandwiches, we 
may observe, were very thick, and were made of a singular 
mixture of bread of radical complexion and bacon. 

"The governor, having long lived in a hot climate, stood 
around shivering in the cold, but buoyed up by the honors 
thus showered upon him he bore himself with the most amiable 
fortitude. 

"There being no tables in those days the supper was 
passed 'round. At the proper time the governor, under a deep 
sense of his own consequence, made a speech, returning his 
thanks for the high honors done him." 



CHAPTER XII 



THE FIRST MURDER CASE 



DOCTOR HENRY SHOOTS HOLLISTER AT BELLEVUE HIS CASE 

BROUGHT BEFORE JUDGE FERGUSON AN ACCOMMODATING 

SHERIFF HENRY IS FINALLY DISCHARGED SOME INCI- 
DENTS IN HIS SUBSEQUENT CAREER. 

On the afternoon of the 20th of April, 1855, a messenger 
came to Omaha from Bellevue with a message from Judge 
Ferguson to Governor Izard, requesting him to send General 
Estabrook, the territorial attorney, and Sheriff Peterson, to 
investigate a murder. 

General Estabrook, Sheriff Peterson, B. P. Rankin, and 
Joseph Strickland, one of the printers of The Nebraskian, ar- 
rived at Bellevue on horseback, at midnight, and there learned 
that Dr. Charles A. Henry had shot and killed a young man 
named George Flollister, who was in the employ of Colonel 
Sarpy. Henry was imprisoned in the Indian blacksmith shop, 
safely guarded from the men who had threatened to lynch 
him. 

Henry, a cool, shrewd man, was a town lot speculator. 
The fatal affray had resulted from a dispute about a boundary 
line. Next morning Rankin called, by request, on Henry, and 
in three-quarters of an hour came out laughing. In reply to an 
inquiry Rankin said he was laughing at the force of habit as 
displayed in Henry's case. Rankin had found him studying 
a map of Iowa, and he had asked if he didn't think that such 
and such a spot was a good place to lay out a town. 

The corner's jury acted under the laws of Iowa, as no 
laws covering the case had yet been passed in Nebraska. Henry 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 93 

was held for examination before Judge Ferguson, who com- 
mitted him to imprisonment, with shackles and handcuffs, and 
also ordering that he should be chained to the floor. Sheriff 
Peterson took charge of the prisoner, and carried out the or- 
der of the court. Henry was confined in Peterson's own house, 
a small one-story frame structure, southwest corner of Far- 
nam and Tenth streets. Peterson lived in the rear part and 
rented the front portion for a saloon and gambling room. 

At the first term of the United States district court held 
in the territory a grand jury was specially called for Henry's 
case. Meantime a local United States attorney had been ap- 
pointed, and thereupon General Estabrook abandoned the suit. 
The grand jury failed to indict Henry. Judge Ferguson, in- 
stead of discharging him, said that as he had examined the 
case himself he was satisfied that a murder had been com- 
mitted and he should recommit the prisoner with the same 
order — shackles and handcuffs; and at the same time order a 
new jury to be called. 

A. J. Poppleton and O. P. Mason were the attorneys for 
Henry. This was the first public appearance of O. P. Mason 
in Nebraska. lie had known Henry in Ohio, and he felt that 
the treatment that the prisoner was receiving at the hands of 
the court was unwarranted. Mason was then a seedy-looking 
individual, weighing about 130 pounds; but his appearance 
was no criterion of his ability. He addressed the court on the 
subject of the order as to the shackles and handcuffs, and the 
chaining of the prisoner to the floor, in terms of the most ter- 
rible and withering invective. Instead of committing him for 
contempt the judge yielded to him and modified the order. 

About that time a flotilla of steamboats, one of which was 
commanded by Captain \\ . I*. Wilcox -who afterwards en- 
gaged in the dry goods business in ( )maha under the firm name 
of Stephens & Wilcox came up the river with a detachment 

of troops for Fort Pierre, The cholera, then raging throughout 

the country, had broken out among the soldiers, one of whom 

had already died. The surgeon was on a boat below, and every- 
body asked for a doctor. I )r. Miller was selected t<> attend the 
cases, and taking his wife with him he proceeded Up the river 
with the troops, and was absent all summer. 



94 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

The departure of Dr. Miller proved a fortunate circum- 
stance for Henry, who was himself a physician, and during 
the absence of Miller he was the only doctor in Omaha. The 
accommodating sheriff accompanied him in his professional 
visits. Dr. Henry, with his shackles on, made many warm 
friends, and the consequence was that the next grand jury did 
not indict him. This ended the affair which was the first regu- 
lar murder case in Nebraska. It was always claimed by Dr. 
Henry that he acted in self-defense. 

Dr. Henry afterwards became a very active and enter- 
prising citizen of Omaha. In the summer of 1856 he built the 
first portion of Pioneer block, which was then called Henry's 
block. This block was burned down a few years later, but 
was rebuilt, and was occupied for some time by C. F. Good- 
man as a drug store and by P. H. Sharpe as a leather store for 
a long period. Dr. Henry also erected in company with an- 
other man the building in which the first drug store was located 
and conducted by himself. 

In June, 1859, Dr. Henry made a town plat of certain 
lands, to w T hich he gave the name of Pawnee City. In fur- 
therance of the sale of town lots he visited Chicago, where he 
represented the Elkhorn river as a navigable stream on which 
steamboats ran, and that Pawnee City was a flourishing place 
of 800 inhabitants. He made sales of lots at high prices and 
took his pay in goods of various kinds, but the so-called Paw- 
nee war disturbed his calculations and put an end to his con- 
templated improvements. 

In the war of the rebellion Dr. Henry, who was an ex- 
treme democrat, rendered valuable service to the cause of the 
Union. Shortly after the battle of Bull Run he was in Wash- 
ington and called at the state department to visit Colonel E. D. 
Webster, who was private secretary for William H. Seward, 
secretary of state. Colonel Webster, who was a New Yorker, 
had edited The Nebraska Republican in Omaha during 
the years 1858-59, and had taken a prominent part in 
the organization of the republican party in the territory. Dur- 
ing his residence in Omaha he had become the warm friend 
of Dr. Henry, although radically differing with him in politics. 
During the conversation in Secretary Seward's office Dr. Hen- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 95 

ry expressed a wish to serve the government in any way in 
his power. "I have been a democrat and pro-slavery man all 
my life," he said, "but when it comes to a question of country 
or no country I am for my country first, last and all the time. 
How can I serve it?" 

"I know of no man who can render so great service as 
you can at the present time," replied Colonel Webster. 

"What is it?" he asked. 

"You are the man we want to go south for us," replied 
Colonel \\'eb>ter. 

At first Dr. Henry revolted at the idea, but when told 
that he possessed peculiar qualifications for the perilous serv- 
ice by reason of his having been such an outspoken democrat 
in Nebraska, well known to all the pro-slavery officials of the 
territory, like De Londe, of Louisiana, who had been register 
of the land office at Brownville; John A. Parker, of Virginia, 
who had been register of the Omaha land office; W. E. Moore, 
of Arkansas, who had been United States marshal, and others, 
all of whom had recently resigned their positions to join the 
rebellion, and who had always been familiar with him as a 
bitter hater and denouncer of abolitionism and republicanism, 
which they considered synonymous, he said, "I'll think of it." 

The next day Dr. Henry returned to the department and 
announced his willingness to go. 

He was accordingly outfitted with a full set of surgical 
instrument-, such as any army surgeon would require, and with 
such rare medicines a^ quinine and the like, which were valu- 
able and necessary in that climate. I fe was given a pass through 

the union line- and his instructions were t<» visit, if possible, 
the fortifications about Washington and ascertain their 

strength, and also to secure the much-desired information 

about the rebel ram Merrimac. At the end of a month Mr. 
Henry returned and made an extensive report winch in every 

way proved satisfactory, lie had easily deceived his southern 
acquaintances, and had no difficulty in procurring passes t* 1 

where he wished For hi^ valuable and perilous services he wa- 
rt warded with a captaincy and assigned to dut\ a- assistant 
quartermaster with General Steele in Arkansas. He made 
.in exceedingl) good officer, and when the war closed he was 

HARNFHIF FF BRArvl 

nnnPM UTAH 



96 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



chief quartermaster. Dr. Henry returned to Omaha from 
the Pacific coast in feeble health in 1880, and died June 8th 
of that year at the home of James E. Boyd, his brother-in-law. 




CHAPTER XIII 



CAPITAL REMOVAL SCHEMES 



BELLEVUE WANTS THE CAPITAL SARPY, MORTON, CUMING, 

AND OTHERS AT THE HEAD OF THE FIRST CAPITAL REMOVAL 

SCHEME PLOT TO SEND GOVERNOR IZARD TO WASHINGTON 

SO THAT HE WOULD NOT INTERFERE SUCCESSFUL COUNTER- 
PLOT DEATH OF DOYLE RANKIN SUCCEEDS HIM AN- 
OTHER ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE CAPITAL MYTHICAL 

DOUGLAS CITY MEMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE BOUGHT UP 

WITH ITS STOCK AN EXPOSE OMAHA'S TACTICS TO GAIN 

TIME — ATTEMPTED ARREST OF UANSCOM "GRANNY" IZARD 

GIVES THE LEGISLATURE SOME ADVICE — PASSAGE OF THE BILL 
OVER THE GOVERNOR'S VETO IS PREVENTED. 

At the second session of the legislature, in the winter 
of 1855-56, a scheme was started to remove the capital to 
Douglas City, as it was called on paper, the objective point 
1>cin<; in reality Bellevue. Colonel Sarpy, J, Sterling Morton. 
Secretary ( liming, and a host of South I Matte men, all of whom 
were hostile to ( )maha. were interested in the project, to which 
they had committed every man in the territory outside of 
Omaha, and they were accordingly sanguine of success. How- 
ever, to make it more sure, they thought it necessary to gel 
Governor Izard oul of the way, so that Secretary Cuming, as 
acting governor in his absence, could sign the bill. To accom- 
plish their design on Izard they resorted to a little Strategy. 

The capital removers had up to this tunc greatly abused the 
governor, and had frequently called him "granny" or "grand- 
mother" Izard. They n<>w changed their plan, and J. Sterling 
Morton and other members of the legislature introduced some 



98 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

very complimentary resolutions concerning Izard with the 
view of thus inducing him to go on a mission to Washington 
to procure some appropriation or attend to some other kind of 
business. These resolutions greatly pleased his excellency, and 
he promised to visit Washington if they were passed, he being 
entirely ignorant of the plot. 

Dr. Miller, who was a member of the legislature, and 
faithful to Omaha's interest, had been informed as to the 
whole business. He assailed the resolutions in a vigorous man- 
ner, causing considerable commotion. Izard was somewhat 
disturbed by Miller's remarks, which did not fully reveal the 
object of the resolutions, and in a whisper that was heard all 
over the house he said to a prominent citizen of Omaha, in 
order to have him go to Dr. Miller to ask him to desist: "For 
God's sake let that pass. It's a good endorsement for me." 

Izard was called into the hall, where he talked the matter 
over with Dr. Miller, and it was then that he first learned 
of the game that was being played on him. It was then agreed 
that the resolutions should be allowed to pass, but that Izard 
should not go to Washington. 

The resolutions were passed, and Governor Izard re- 
mained in Omaha according to promise. This defeated the 
plan. But the whole winter w T as spent in attempts to remove 
the capital to some point, it didn't make much difference where, 
if it could only be taken from Omaha. Cuming finally agreed 
not to have anything further to do with the various schemes. 

It w r as during this session of the legislature that Leavitt 
L. Bowen was one of the representatives of Douglas count}', 
and his seat was contested by Silas A. Strickland on the ground 
that Bowen lived in Council Bluffs, being in fact a partner of 
lawyer A. C. Ford, who was aftenvards killed by the vigilantes 
in Colorado. General Fstabrook was attorney for Strickland 
in the contest, which resulted in favor of Bowen. While 
General Estabrook was making the closing argument in the 
evening it was announced that United States Marshal Eli R. 
Doyle, who had succeeded Izard, had fallen down stairs in 
the Western Exchange building, receiving fatal injuries, and 
dying in a few minutes. Benjamin 1\ Rankin was the suc- 
cessor of Doyle, and held the office n\ marshall for tour 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 99 

years, residing in Nebraska till 1861. 

At the next session of the legislature, in. the. winter of 
1857, the capital removers again came Up smiling with two- 
thirds of the members pledged against Omaha, so that they 
could suspend the rules and pass a capital removal bill over 
the governor's veto. They proposed to send the capital to Salt 
Creek, by relocating it at a mythical place to be called Douglas 
City, about where Lincoln, the present capital, was afterwards 
located. The scheme was principally engineered by ex-Gover- 
nor McComas, of Virginia, a very sharp wire-puller and man- 
ipulator in such affairs. 

These men had their new town site laid out into shares, 
which they had issued to the members, who had their pockets 
lined with the scrip. Nearly everybody had been seen and 
sweetened with this scrip, and it is said that even some of 
Omaha's own men accepted some of it. 

Jones, <»f Dakota county, had a pocket full of it, and told 
Eianscom, who persuaded him to expose the whole business 
at the proper time. Jones walked into the legislative halls and 
i elated his story, showing his scrip, which he said he had taken 
to use as evidence of the exposure he had made, (ireat excite- 
ment was created for a short time, but it was soon forgotten 
in the tumult of tin- subsequent proceedings. The capital re- 
movers elected their speaker, Isaac L. Gibbs, and tried to ride 
rough-shod over everybody, but eventually failed. Omaha 
bad only eight votes out of thirty-five in the house. This num- 
ber, however, was increased by one vote, which was secured 
from Dodge county; but at no time did Omaha have enough 
votes to prevent a suspension of the rules. Gibbs, the speaker, 
paid no regard whatever to parliamentary laws, and it is 
Pact that it was a very rough legislature in every sense of the 

word. The enemies of Omaha were determined to pass the 

capital removal bill, and Omaha was equally determined t'> 
prevent it, as everything was at stake with the citizens of the 

t« »W II 

To gain time was the main object Omaha leaders had in 

view, and t«» do it the) "talked against tune" on ever) p"ssiMe 

asion, consuming several days in trivial arguments. I<»nas 

Seeley and VI fianscom did most of the talking, rlanscom 



100 THE STORY OF OMAHA 



had cont r ol of the campaign for the defense, and arranged 
nearly all the -plans.- 

Mr. BroY/ii of .Plattsmouth was chief clerk, and as the 
Omaha men didn't like him very well, and wanted to oust 
him, they took occasion to kill time by taking up his journal 
every morning, whether it was correct or not, and literally 
picking it to pieces on the slightest pretense. It thus frequently 
happened that half a day or more was spent in correcting 
the journal. Brown was later forced to step down and out, 
and Sterritt M. Curran of Omaha took his place. 

General Strickland, then a resident of Bellevue, was a 
recognized leader and champion of the South Platte folks, and 
whenever he would move anything to bring on a direct fight 
Hanscom would make some dilatory motion — to lay on the 
table, to postpone to a certain day, or indefinitely postpone — 
thus consuming time, all of which was a part of the program. 

It was a very stormy session all the way through. At 
one time the speaker ordered the sergeant-at-arms to arrest 
Hanscom, who bluffed him by saying, "Come no further, you 
are safer there than you will be if you come any nearer." The 
officer evidently saw that he meant what he said, and the arrest 
was not made. After the intense excitement, caused by Hans- 
corn's bluff, had somewhat subsided, the champions of Omaha 
availed themselves of every opportunity to pitch into the speak- 
er until they actually made it so warm for him that he dared 
not occupy the chair. They made him sick ; at least he pre- 
tended to be sick, and Strickland was appointed by him to fill 
the chair in his absence. The question then arose whether he 
could appoint Strickland from day to day, or for a longer per- 
iod, and a whole day was thus consumed in argument. 

The South Platte party asked the governor to call out 300 
militia to protect them from the Omaha crowd, which was 
composed of eight men. The next morning Governor Izard, 
whom they had called "grandmother," assembled both branch- 
es of the legislature together and made them a speech. It was 
short and pointed. He said : "Gentlemen, it is entirely un- 
necessary for me to call out the militia. Go on and attend to 
your legislative business. Behave yourselves, and your 'grand- 
mother' will protect you." 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



101 




Every effort was made to induce members of the opposi- 
tion to flop over in favor of Omaha, but they were all avarici- 
ous, and a sum total of $20,000 was demanded for votes. 

One man, hailing from a South Platte county, was so 
scared and apprehensive of the result of the excitement and 
turbulence that prevailed, that he wished to go home and tell 
his friends that he was really afraid of his life. But he wanted 
from Omaha $5,000 as a compensation for his absence. "We 
have not any money to give to men to pay them to go home 
and slander us," said one of Omaha's leaders, who did not 
think being afraid of one's life was a very good recommenda- 
tion for the city. Of course he didn't get a cent, and he soon 
recovered from his scare. 

Governor Izard, on the 19th of Janu- 
ary, returned unsigned the capital removal 
bill, which had been passed by a majority 
in both houses. In his veto message he said 
that, so far as knew, the question of re- 
moval had not been considered by any coun- 
ty in the territory, or the measure made one 
of public action by popular vote; that, 
^^^^Jk geographically, Omaha was, and would 
^^^ Wm continue to be, central and convenient for 

^ ^™ years to come; that a costly edifice had 

>inrk w. i/.urd been erected in Omaha, and policy dictated 

its use as a territorial hall; that the bill 
named the selection of "Douglas in Lancaster countv." as 
the proposed location of the capital; that the city of Douglas 
existed only in the brains of ambitious fortune hunters and on 
neatly printed paper; that there was even a fight within a light, 
and that two rival factions had severally planned a town of 

Douglas, neither of which really existed, and neither of which 
would, if designated, invoke the projectors in litigation from 
the other "Douglas" citizens; {hat numerous legal reasons 

were apparent in justification of his course; and, on the whole, 
that the move was one of shrewd practice by sundry opponents 

• inaha. 

Enough votes were secured but exactly how, this his- 
torian is not aw. tic tor ( )maha to prevent the passage of the 



102 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

hill over the governor's veto, which virtually defeated the 
enemy. 

Parties from the South Platte country had come here re- 
solved to ruin Omaha, and even tried to divide Douglas county 
and remove the county seat to Florence. Omaha had its 
hands full and running over with fights, and had nothing else 
to do that winter but to act on the defensive. 

The South Platters tried for some time to tire out the 
Omaha squad hy holding night sessions, but finally an Omaha 
man "satisfied" several parties that they were doing wrong, 
and they came over and voted with Omaha. That ended 
the capital removal business for that session, more than one- 
half of which was taken up by this fight. The remainder of 
the session passed off quietly. 

Just before the final vote was taken on the capital re- 
moval bill, Seeley, of Dodge county, was turned out of his 
seat for having previously voted for Omaha. 



CHAPTER XIV 



THE LAST ROUND IN THE CAPITAL REMOVAL 

FIGHT 



THE SCHEMERS COME UP SMILING AGAIN HANSCOM IS CALLED 

UPON TO CHAMPION OMAHA'S CAUSE — TIE THROWS THE 

SPEAKER UNDER THE TABLE AN EXCITING SCENE BLACK 

EYES AND BLOODY NOSES HOW STRICKLAND WAS SILENCED 

— LEGISLATURE BREAKS UP IN A ROW AND ADJOURNS TO 
FLORENCE — ARRIVAL OF GOVERNOR RICHARDSON, SUCCESSOR 

OF IZARD THE CAPITOL BUILDING DEATH OF SECRETARY 

CUMING — EXTRA SESSION OF THE LEGISLATURE — THE 
I \ITI\L FINALLY REMOVED TO LINCOLN IX 1867, WHEN 
NEBRASKA WAS ADMITTED AS A STATE. 

When the next session of the legislature convened in the 
winter of 1857-58, the same <>1<1 gang of capital removers as- 
sembled in Omaha, resolved, as before, to make a desperate 
effort for the success of their old scheme. Hanscom, who was 
not a member of this legislature, except as a lobbyist, was ap- 
pealed to as usual to do all in his power to resist the attack on 
Omaha, whose recognized leader he had become in such im- 
portant affairs. The matter was thoroughly discussed by the 
most prominent citizens, who wanted to ascertain whether it 
wa> best to pay out any money, as usual, to retain the capital. 
Some of the old settlers relate that Hanscom said that he, for 
i ne, had been paying out money long enough, and that now 

he pr< >p< »>ed tO " w hale si duel KXly, 

S« m >u a I teru aids they sent f< »r I [ailSO >m and t» >ld him that 

the speaker, named Decker, an avowed enemy "t Omaha, had 
armed himself with a revolver, and that his party was likewise 



104 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



prepared for any emergency that might arise. A very lively 
fight soon ensued. 

One morning the house went into committee of the whole, 
electing as chairman Dr. Thrall, afterwards United States mar- 
shal at Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Thrall at once stepped up and 
filled the speaker's chair. The Omaha men immediately re- 
sorted to their old tactics of talking against time, and it is a 
fact that George Clayes kept the floor until the middle of the 
afternoon, when a message was received from the clerk of the 
council. Under the joint rules of the legislature no message 
could be received by one branch when the other that sent it was 
not in session at the time. The council had adjourned and left 
its room. When the clerk of the council appeared in the house 
the question was at once raised whether the message which he 




A Nebraska territorial legislative scene 

bore could be received. Mr. Decker, the speaker, walked up 
to the speaker's stand with the intention of resuming his seat, 
which Thrall refused to let him have. Decker grabbed for the 
gavel in Thrall's hand, announcing at the same time that the 
committee of the whole would rise and receive the message 
from the council. That was entirely out of order as it was 
known that the council was not in session. 

Hanscom, under the usual resolution passed at the begin- 
ning of the session inviting ex-members of the legislature 
within the bar, had spent nearly all of his time there. He had 
taken a seat on the step near the speaker's stand to quiet any 
difficulty that might arise, or to take a hand in it if it were 
necessary. When Decker came up and endeavored to snatch 
the gavel Hanscom yelled to Thrall, "Hit the rascal over the 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 105 

head with the gavel." Decker was on the opposite side of 
the speaker's stand, and was attempting not only to seize the 
gavel but to push Thrall out of the seat, while Hanscom, who 
had jumped to his feet, pulled Thrall back again, and thus he 
was kept going back and forth for a short time between Decker 
and Hanscom. J. W. Paddock and Mike Murphy, both mem- 
bers of the legislature, jumped up to prevent Decker from 
further interfering with Thrall. Paddock got hold of Decker's 
hand and pulled him down from the stand, and while they were 
scuffling Hanscom sprang forward and grabbing him by the 
back of his neck and the seat of his trousers laid him with 
great force under the speaker's table. About fifty men sprang to 
their feet. All was excitement and uproar, and when it gradu- 
ally subsided it was found that several persons had been badly 
used up. Bloody noses and black eyes were too numerous to 
mention. It was hard to decide which were in the majority — 
the ayes or the noes. 

The Omaha men gained possession of the field, and as 
soon as the fuss was over, and the speaker was out of the 
chair, the enemy was defeated in every other way. 

Judge Kinney, of Nebraska City, who was opposed to 
Omaha, was called on for a speech, fie mounted one of the 
desks and began to talk. Thrall was told by Hanscom to call 
him to order, as Kinney was not a member. 

Strickland jumped on one of the tables and shouted, "I 
have the right to talk; 1 am a member." 

Thrall ordered him to sit down, but he would not do it. 

Hanscom told him if he didn't he would knock him down. 

"Well," said Strickland, cooling off a little, "I guess I can 
go out of doors and talk." As there was no objection that 

ended the light for that day. 

The legislature met next morning, and instead of passing 
a joint resolution to remove to another place each house 

passed a resolution adjourning to Florence, thus virtually 

breaking Up in a row. Dr. Miller, president of the council, 
refused to put the motion to adjourn t<> Florence. 1 lie mem- 
ber iroin OtOC who made the motion put it himself and de- 
clared it carried, whereupon the council adjourned. In the 

house a similar resolution was carried unanimously, the ( )ma- 



106 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



■ 




THE STORY OF OMAHA 107 

ha men not voting. To Florence they went, but their action did 
not amount to anything. They were not recognized as a legis- 
lature by the governor, and they did not get any pay for the 
time that they spent in Florence. 

The session expired on January 16th by limitation, the law- 
declaring the term to be but forty days in length. The illustra- 
tion accompanying this chapter — which, by the way, may be 
called a very "striking picture" — illustrates very faithfully not 
only this particular session of the legislature, but also the three 
previous sessions, in each of which some very animated and 
boisterous brawls and tumultuous disturbances occurred. A 
knock-down was no unusual thing, as the war of words gen- 
erally resulted in a set-to at fisticuffs. The persuasive revolver 
also played an important part at times in the spirited debates, 
and whenever it was presented it generally proved a very con- 
vincing argument, for the time being at least. 

Governor \V. A. Richardson, of Quincy, Illinois — the 
successor of Governor Izard, who had returned to Arkansas 
— arrived in Omaha early in January, 1857. He assumed the 
duties of his office on the 12th of that month. The Florence 
faction of the legislature sent a committee to wait upon him, 
and present to him a resolution to the effect that "the council 
and house of representatives of the territory of Nebraska" 
were then in session at Florence, having been forced to adjourn 
to that town, the nearest place of safety, by the disorganizing 
and turbulent acts of a minority of their own body, and by the 
violence of an unrestrained mob at Omaha, causing a well- 
grounded apprehension as to the personal safety of the major- 
ity, and requesting his excellency to communicate with the 
legislature in Florence, at his earliest convenience. Governor 
Richardson replied by addressing the seceders a- "members of 
the legislature," and nol as "the legislature," assuring them 
t li.it he was "prepared to guarantee that no act of violence by 
any man <>v se1 of men will be perpetrated upon the rights or 
• •us of member- of tin- legislature, while in the discharge 
oi their duties as such. * * * The public necessity requires 
that the legislature should proceed t<» business and perform its 
appropriate duties. It would be exceedingly gratifying, there 

fore, t<> me, if yOU would return t<> the capital, accept the pro 



108 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

tection which it is my duty and pleasure to tender to the rep- 
resentatives of the people, and, by just and needful legislation, 
relieve the citizens of the territory from the apprehension of 
being left for another year without sufficient laws for that 
absolute protection which is guaranteed by the constitution of 
the United States." 

The Florence seceders, however, did not accept the gov- 
ernor's protection. This (the fourth) session of the legislature 
was held in the territorial capitol, an illustration of which is 
herewith presented. The engraving, however, does not do 
justice to the building, as it was made from a photograph 
taken after the colonnade, which surrounded it, had been torn 
down, having been pronounced unsafe. When the columns 
were standing it is said that the structure presented a very 
handsome appearance, excelled by but very few other build- 
ings in the country at that time. It stood on Capitol hill, on 
the spot now covered by the high school building. It w r as erect- 
ed by Bovey & Armstrong. George C. Bovey was a practical 
builder, and Major Armstrong was the moneyed man of the 
firm as well as the superintendent. The contract was made the 
29th of November, 1855, the time for completing the structure 
being the 15th of September, 1856. It was not finished, how- 
ever, till some time in 1857. They employed 150 men and 
horses in their brickyard while erecting this and other build- 
ings. The cost of the capitol was $100,000. 

An extra session of the legislature was called by the gov- 
ernor in the fall of 1858. It convened on the 21st of Septem- 
ber. The occasion for this session was that the territory had, 
by the action of the previous legislature, been left without a 
criminal code, and the only mode of procedure was the com- 
mon law of England under the provisions of which perjury, 
forgery and other crimes, less than capital in this country, 
were punishable with death. This remarkable state of affairs 
was brought about by the passage of a bill repealing certain 
acts of the first territorial assembly, and by its provisions the 
act adopting certain parts of the criminal code of Iowa and an 
act relative to criminal laws were accordingly repealed, thus 
leaving no criminal code for the territory. This bill was intro- 
duced by Allen A. Bradford, was passed by both houses, ve- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



109 



toed by the governor, but passed over his veto. Dr. Miller was 
the only member in the council who opposed this repeal bill, 
while H. Johnson and W. E. Moore were the only members of 
the house who voted against it. It is stated on good authority 
that this extraordinary piece of legislation was engineered 
through by Bradford for the benefit of a Nebraska City mur- 
derer who had engaged him as his lawyer. The trouble which 
resulted in the murder arose from a disputed land claim. Not- 
withstanding the repeal of the criminal code the murderer was 
convicted and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment, but the 
supreme court decided that the prisoner must be discharged 
owing to the defect in the territorial laws. A civil suit brought 
by the heirs of the murdered man to recover possession of the 
disputed property was also dismissed on the ground that the 
civil code had been repealed. Eventually, however, the heirs 
secured the property through the perseverance of their lawyer. 
The serious defects in the territorial laws were of course 
remedied by proper legislation at the extra session. 

At this session the 
legislature paid a high tri- 
bute to Secretary (inning, 
who had died in March. 
( inning was a man of 
more than ordinary abil- 
ity. He was highly edu- 
cated, and had a some- 
what varied and active ca- 
reer before coining to Ne- 
braska. 

Thomas B. ( 'inning, who 
was born in \c\v York, 
was the s< mi < >f an Episco- 
pal minister, and was edu- 
cated in the University of 
Michigan, entering the first 

freshman class of that in- 
stitution. \\ hen lu- graduated lit- was tin- youngest of his class 
;ni<l delivered the Greek oration, winch was a high honor. Me 
served in the Mexican war, enlisting as a private in the com- 




TlinnniN II. < iimliiK 



110 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

pany commanded by A. J. Hanscom and soon rising to the 
rank of lieutenant. When gold was discovered in California 
he determined to go to the Pacific coast, but upon reaching 
St. Louis he was induced to accept the position of telegraph 
operator. He knew nothing about telegraphing but in three 
weeks of hard application he became a fairly efficient operator 
and was placed in charge of the Peru office, and soon after he 
handled the office in Keokuk. Young Cuming employed his 
leisure time in writing anonymous articles for The Keokuk 
Dispatch which attracted general attention. When it became 
known that he was the author of these articles he was given 
the editorial management of the paper which soon became the 
leading journal of Iowa. 

In 1854 Mr. Cuming was appointed secretary of the ter- 
ritory of Nebraska by President Pierce. He became acting 
governor upon the death of Governor Burt. The location of the 
capital was among the most important acts that Governor Cum- 
ing was called on to perform. Omaha forever owes him a debt 
of gratitude for naming this city as the place for holding the 
first legislative session which designated this town as the ter- 
ritorial capital. Upon the appointment of Mark W. Izard of 
Arkansas to the governorship Mr. Cuming resumed the office 
of secretary. He again became acting governor upon the 
resignation of Izard in November, 1857. 

Judge Savage paid this tribute to Thomas B. Cuming: 
"Neither the lapse of time nor thronging events can efface the 
memory of the gifted and generous Cuming from the minds 
of those still living, who knew him. No more gifted person 
has ever lived in Nebraska." 

Governor Cuming was married in Keokuk to Marguerite 
Carleton Murphy, sister of the late Frank Murphy, who w -as 
for many years president of the Merchants National bank of 
Omaha. Governor Cuming died March 23, 1858, at the age of 
thirty years. He was deeply mourned by the people of Ne- 
braska who regarded him as a man of great ability and an 
excellent executive. Mrs. Cuming survived him forty-seven 
years, dying in 1915. She was one of the most refined and 
popular women of Omaha. She was a descendant of one of 
the pioneer families of Maryland, and was a native of that 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 111 

state. The sister of Mrs. Cuming was the wife of Charles W. 
Hamilton, and mother of C. Will, Frank T. and Millard Cald- 
well Hamilton, and Mrs. Daniel C. Stapleton of Washington, 
Mrs. Jack Barber, and Frederick P. Hamilton, who in 1921 
was elected president of the Merchants National bank. 

Governor Richardson's term of office expired December 
5, 1858. Secretary J. Sterling Morton assumed the duties of 
the office and continued to act as governor until May 2, 1859, 
when Samuel W. Black, of Nebraska City, originally from 
Pennsylvania, who had been appointed to succeed Governor 
Richardson, arrived in Omaha and took hold of the reins 
of government. Previous to this he had served as associate 
justice of the supreme court of the territory, having been ap- 
pointed by president Buchanan in 1857. In the spring of 1861 
he returned to Pennsylvania, and organized the Sixty-second 
regiment of volunteers, and became its colonel. He was killed 
on the field of battle at Gainesville, June 27, 1862. Alvin Saun- 
ders, appointed by President Lincoln, succeeded Black, coining 
here in 1861 from Iowa. 

The territorial legislatures following those previous to 
1858 were comparatively quiet assemblages, marked by no ex- 
citing episode worthy mention at this day. 

Congress passed an enabling act for the admission of 
Nebraska as a state on the 21st of March. 1864. Under that 
act the electors of the territory held an election and adopted a 
state constitution, at the same time electing state officers under 
that constitution, which prohibited the right of suffrage to the 
negroe 

afterwards passed another act to the effect that 
Nebraska could only be admitted by a change of its constitu- 
tion so that the right of suffrage should not ever be denied to 
any man on account of his race, color or previous condition 
of servitude. 

It was under this revised constitution that Nebraska came 
into the union a^ a state in 1867. It was provided in the con- 
stitution that the first -tatc legislature could locate the seat of 
government. Governor Butler, the first elected governor, 
called the first state legislature by proclamation to meet in 
Omaha on the loth day of May, 1867. \t that session the 



112 



1 Hi; STORY OF OMAHA 



capital was removed to Lincoln without any opposition from 
the citizens of Omaha. The railroads were beginning to center 
here, and it was seen that Omaha's prosperity did not depend 
on the capital. The town now had other and richer resources. 
Mush times had set in at the close of the war. and the people 
had come to the conclusion that the capital was not much of a 
benefit after all. 

Upon the removal of the capital to Lincoln the people of 
Omaha acquired the title to Capitol square, as it had been do- 
nated to the state for legislative purposes only, provided that 
it should revert to the donors in case it should ever be used 
for any other object. The legislature, in granting Omaha's 
petition, provided that it should be used for school purposes. 




CHAPTER XV 



DOINGS OF THE CLAIM CLUB 



SQUATTER TITLES — FIRST NEBRASKA CLAIM MEETING — PAS- 
iGE OF LAWS — OMAIIA CLAIM CLUB -ARBITRARY AND OP- 
PRESSIVE PROCEEDINGS — THE CASE OF "Doc." SMITH — MASS 
MEETING OF THE CLUB — RESOLUTIONS- JACOB SHULL 
DRIVEN PROM .HIS CLAIM AND BIS BUILDINGS BURNED — j 
CALLAHAN DUCKED IN THE RIVER THROUGH A HOLE IN THE 
[( I. SENT] Si EOF DEATH PASSED UPON ZIEGLER, WHO SA^ 
BIS LIFE BY YIELDING TO THE DEMANDS OF THE CUT, — MUR- 
PHY'S STORY — A MAN STRUNG UP TO A TREE, AND AFTER- 
WARDS STARVED INTO SUBMISSION- THE CASE OF A. H. BAKER 
— LI HON OF THE CLAIM CLUBS — PIRST BNTRY AND 

FIRST PUBLIC SALE OL LAND. 

The early settlers of ( >maha had DO valid title to their 
landfl Upon which they had located Or had staked OUt their 

claims. The title •.■ kill in the government of the United 
States, the land not having been thrown upon the mar' 

1 he Only title the Settlers had was what they called the "claim" 

nr "squatter" title, and which they conveyed to each other by 
quit-claii Is. These titles w< enerally respected by 

rybod] ially when the claimant had made valuahle mi- 

provement 

'The « laim club ne of the first instituti tablished 

here It was organized by the settlers as i ion of higher law, 
and al i the purj themselves an advant 

me afterwards. It soon became evident to 
them that Omaha would, at some day. become a large and 
prosperou nd the) ugly undertook I the 



1 14 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

lion's share of the plunder. Under the laws of the United 

States in force at that time any settler could take one hundred 
and sixty acres of land, and by staying on it he was in no dan- 
ger of his title ever being disputed, though it was necessary 

for him to wait till the land came into market before he could 
acquire a full and valid title. The early settlers thought the 

limit of one hundred and sixty acres was not extensive enough. 
So they formed themselves into a Nebraska claim association, 
or, as it was soon afterwards better known, the Omaha Claim 
club, comprising- all settlers in Omaha and Douglas county, 
which then included Sarpy count}'. 

A Nebraska claim meeting was held in Omaha on the 
2.2nd day of July, 1854, almost immediately after the survey 
of the town site was completed. It was composed of a re- 
spectable number of the claimants of the public lands in the 
vicinity of Omaha, as the first number of the Omaha Arrow, 
July 28th, informs us. 

S. Lewis was called to the chair, and M. C. Gaylord was 
appointed temporary secretary. A complete code of laws was 
enacted, providing for the manner of marking claims, and that 
no person could hold more than three hundred and twenty 
acres, but that it must be in two parcels. Xo person could hold 
more than eighty acres of timber, but that also must be in two 
separate parcels. 

Marking the claim and building a pen four rounds high, in 
a conspicuous place, would hold the claim for thirty days, at 
the expiration of which a house was to be built on the land. 
Transfers of claims were to be made by quit-claim deeds. All 
differences were to be settled by arbitration. 

After the passage of these laws the association proceeded 
to the election of its officers, as provided for in the claim code. 
the result being as follows: A. D. Jones, judge; S. Lewis, 
clerk; M. C. Gaylord, recorder; R. B. W'hitted. sheriff. So it 
will be seen that A. D. Jones was our first judge, and was 
fully entitled to the honorable prefix, although he was rarely 
called judge. New officers were elected from time to time. 
?nd the laws were slightly amended at different periods, form- 
ing the model for similar club> throughout the territory 

The first fight over a piece of land in Omaha occured in 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



115 




■ 



;■•/ > 



% 



\ 



1854, a short time before the organization of the claim club. A 

big Frenchman, named 
Veunseau, had taken p 

ion of a tract in the 
southeast part of the 
townsite, and defied A. D. 
Jones, who claimed the 
ground, and all others to 
dispossess him. Jones 
sent to Missouri for Cam 
Reeves to come and 
wallop the Frenchman. 
Reeves promptly respond- 
ed to the call. It required 
three trips of Brown's 
ferry boat to transport 
the crowd from Council 
Bluffs to witness the fight. 
I Reeves found Veunseau 
"at home." It was a long 
and tough battle that en- 
sued. Victory finally 
perched upon the banner 
of the man from Mis- 
souri, and the conquered 
Frenchman \\a\ t<» the 
ferry 1>< »at and escaped to 
b »w a. I le nr\ er came back, 
and Jones grabbed the 

r land and held it. It was 
pr< )hablv i »\\ i'iil: t« I l\ec\ es' 

hting qualities that he was elected the first sheriff of Doug- 
las county soon a tier his victory over the Frenchman. 

The ( )niaha ( laim club made a regulation that each mem- 
ber should hold against all claimants provided he made im- 
provements on the land to the value of $50 per year. Under 
this regulation all the land within tiw or ten miles of the i 
claimed by the settlei h one taking 320 acn 

Two or tho ifterwards, when new settle 




A.D. 5CMGS- 



Oauihi'a i • • 1 1 i»«»s i in.-i ■ i < i jmmI jiiilm 

tin- 4 > in it li ji * 1,'iini tliili 



116 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

to arrive, this regulation gave rise to a great deal of serious 
difficulty, and in some cases bloodshed resulted. The claim 
club was very arbitrary, and in some cases oppressive, in en- 
forcing some of its regulations, and many of the old settlers 
were very reticent in regard to the transactions of the organ- 
ization. We will, however, relate a few well authenticated 
incidents of its action in respect to the adjustment of diffi- 
culties arising from disputed claims. 

George Smith, better known as "Doc." Smith, for many 
years surveyor of Douglas county, was one of the victims of 
the wrath of the Omaha club. He had taken up a claim in 
the vicinity of his residence in the north part of the city, on 
the 15th day of May, 1856, and in three days he had 
his house half completed, when an armed party of seventy- 
five or one hundred men, under the direction of the Omaha 
Claim club, came up and in a few minutes leveled the build- 
ing to the ground, and threatened to put an end to the exist- 
ence of Mr. Smith, who saw it was useless to resist against 
such overwhelming odds. He had retreated to a small clump 
of trees and bushes, where he held a brief consultation with 
the captain of the men, who advised him to leave at once. Mr. 
Smith acted on this advice, and going down the bluff he 
quickly departed and crossed the river to Iowa, and went- to 
Glenwood, where he remained nearly all summer, occupying 
his time in cultivating a small piece of ground that he had 
there. He visited Omaha occasionally, but made no attempt 
to recover his land. In the summer of 1857 Mr. Smith re- 
turned to Omaha, and soon after, early in 1858, employed a 
Washington lawyer, Richard M. Young, to present his case to 
the commissioner of the general land office, Thomas A. Hend- 
ricks, who had replied in December, 1857, to the letter of the 
register and receiver of the land office in Omaha in reference 
to the matter, that as Smith was absent from the land claimed 
for more than one year; that as there was no evidence that he 
attempted to return and take possession of his claim, or that he 
resorted to legal proceedings t<> obtain possession or to protect 
himself, the general land office could not take the place of the 
local law, and its officers, to protect him; and further, that not 
having complied either with the letter or the spirit of the pre- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 117 

eruption law his claim was rejected. 

Young went at the case with a will, notwithstanding this 
adverse ruling, and gathering all the facts and testimony, he 
presented the matter in a clear and convincing manner, and 
finally recovered Smith's land for him. Young had the facts 
and testimony of the case printed in pamphlet form, and dis- 
tributed throughout Nebraska, from which we have gathered 
considerable information. 

John A. Parker, register of the land office at the time 
Smith was driven from his land, was one of the main witnesses 
for Smith. In his affidavit he testified as follows: 

"That he was present at Omaha in May, 1856, at which 
time the said George Smith had erected a house on the above 
mentioned land, and which was the only house or other im- 
provement on said land ; that soon after said house was erected 
on said land he saw a large and excited mob, fully armed, pro- 
ceed to said house and pull the same down, and give notice to 
said Smith to leave the territory immediately, tinder pain of 
being placed in the river if he failed to do so; that the said 
Smith did, in fact, leave. 

"On or about the 1st of February, 1857, the land office 
opened at Omaha, and the claim association held a meeting, 
and passed resolutions that no man should be permitted to 
pre-empt land without the consent of said association; and a 
committee of vigilance was appointed to see that no person 

violated said resolution, and to punish and 'dispose of all who 

did make any effort to comply with the laws of the United 

States. Some were summarily dealt with, and have n<>t since 
been heard of. An effort was made to find Smith for the pur- 
pose of making him abandon Ins claim, and it is within the 
Onal knowledge of this affiant that threats were made, if 
Ik could be found and refused t<> comply, that he should be 
hanged; and this affiant lias no doubt that said threats would 

have been executed. 

"Some time in April the said Smith wrote to this affiant 
ing if be COUld, in his opinion, safely appear at bis office 

consummate bis pre-emption, lie replied, that he did not 

think he could do -". and any attempt On bis part would for- 
feit bis hie 



118 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

"Again, in the summer, he was written to on the same 
subject; and he was then advised to come down to the office 
at night, and bring his witnesses with him, so that the facts 
should be sent to the commissioner of the land office, all of 
which was done. 

"During the whole period there was no bona fide settle- 
ment on said land, nor was there any such settlement up to the 
time said Smith came to the office. The only real claimant ^o 
the land was Omaha, and it constituted a portion of the 3,500 
acres which was set apart and claimed for the town, but con- 
stituted no part of the area entered, or built on, and occupied 
for town purposes. It does not appear that there was any laches 
on the part of Smith, nor was there any law in existence to 
which he could appeal to place him in possession of the land, 
(even if such a law could have been enforced against a mob). 
The legislature, at its session of 1857, had repealed all civil 
and criminal laws, and had not substituted any others. 

"The affiant is in doubt whether, at this time, the said 
Smith could safely enter on the land; but, if it is entrusted 
to him, he has no doubt he will make the effort. 

(Signed) John A. Parker, 

Late Register Land Office, Omaha, N. T.' 

Some years later "Doc" Smith was asked what had be- 
come of the captain of the claim club that had banished him 
from Omaha. This was his reply : "I met him once and he 
had nothing to say to me. He was as dumb as an oyster. I was 
running a line through Prospect Hill cemetery and came across 
the spot where he was planted. I at once hopped to it and 
merrily danced on his grave.'' 

At a mass meeting of the Omaha Claim club, Kebruary 
20, 1857, it was announced that delegations were present from 
Bellevue, Florence, Elkhorn and Papillion, ready to offer aid 
and counsel, and to assist the people of Omaha in the pro- 
tection of their rights. 

The delegations were admitted by acclamation, and a com- 
mittee of five was appointed to draw up resolutions express- 
ing the sentiments and intentions of the squatters. The reso- 
lutions were as follows : 

"Whereas, It appears that evil disposed persons are giv- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 119 

ing trouble, in different parts of this vicinity, in attempting 
to pre-empt the claims and parts of claims held by bona fide 
claimants, to the great annoyance of the rightful owners; 
therefore, 

"Resolved, That we have the fullest confidence in the 
power of the claim associations to protect the rights of the 
actual settler, and we pledge ourselves as men, and as members 
of the different claim associations in Douglas and Sarpy coun- 
ties, to maintain the claim title as the highest title known to 
our laws, and we will defend it with our lives. 

"Resolved, That persons shielding themselves under the 
act of congress to pre-empt a man's farm under the color of 
law, shall be no excuse for the offender, but will be treated by 
US as any other common thief." 

The resolutions were adopted by acclamation, and the 
captain of the regulators was authorized to select a vigilance 
committee to carry out the intention of the resolutions. 

Jt was then ordered that the proceedings of the meeting 
be printed and posted in public places and published in the 
newspapers of the territory, and the meeting then adjourned 
until Saturday, the 21st, when a committee was appointed to 
attend at the United States land office and warn settlers of 
any attempt to pre-empt their land. The captain of the regu- 
lators chose a secret vigilance committee, and minute men 

were enrolled to execute the orders of the association in the 
Speediest and mosl effectual manner. The meeting then ad- 
journed. 

It has been related that at a meeting of the Omaha claim 

club in Pioneer block very likely at the same meeting just 

cribed — a well-known man, in speaking «»f what should 

be the fate of those who threatened to prove tip on a claim 

not their own. said. "Instead of letting them prove Up we'll 

end them up," at the same time accompanying the 

remark with a noise as of a choking Sensation, and with a 
gesture Of the hand to indicate the sudden elevation of an 

object towards an overhanging limb. These gestures v, 
e pecially significant as coming from one known to have b< 
tried for the killing of a man. This incident may remind the 



120 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

reader, whenever he hears the expression "we've got 'em a- 
keeking," that somebody has got somebody else in a tight 
place — choking the wind out of him, so to speak. 

On the 21st of February, 1857 — the very day after the 
holding of the "grand mass meeting'' — the club began to car- 
ry out the resolutions, and rallying the members to the num- 
ber of over one hundred men, all fully armed and equipped, 
they marched out in a body to the southwest portion of the 
city, and forcibly dispossessed of his premises Jacob S. Shull, 
who had squatted on what he had rightfully supposed to be a 
piece of government land, and being a citizen of the United 
States he claimed the right to settle upon and improve it un- 
der the pre-emption laws. 

Seeing this large body of men bearing down upon him, 
and knowing what they were coming for, he hurriedly re- 
treated. The claim club tore down and set fire to his build- 
ings, destroying everything on the premises, and then began 
hunting for him. He lay concealed for two days behind a 
counter in a dry goods store. His pursuers searched nearly 
every building in town, including the store in which he was 
secreted. Finally, after the excitement had somewhat sub- 
sided, he came out from his hiding place, and was not further 
molested. Of course he did not dare to openly assert any claim 
to the land after this occurrence. Mr. Shull died within a 
year after his dispossession of the land. His death, it is said, 
was greatly owing to the treatment he had received at the 
hands of the claim club. His troubles bore heavily on his mind, 
and caused a general depression of his spirits. Upon his death- 
bed his last thoughts were of his property, and his last words, 
uttered to his son, Henry D. Shull, then a very young man 
or rather boy, were: "You (meaning the family) will get it 
some day," and his prediction came true. 

The party claiming the land under the club law after- 
wards procured his title from the government. The heirs of 
Mr. Shull, however, carried their case to the courts, and with- 
out any difficulty procurred the title from the government 
for the 160 acres of land, and the last claimant was then ousted. 
The heirs still reside in this city, and are now enjoying the 
profits arising from the sale of the land in city lots, it having 



TPTE STORY OF OMAHA 121 

become quite valuable. This property is known as Shull's ad- 
dition. 

Another case was that of a man named Callahan, who 
had settled upon a piece of land in the west part of the city, in 
the vicinity of West Omaha. He, too, was dispossessed by 
the claim club; but returned a few days afterwards, acting 
under the advice of some one who was not known, and took 
possession of the land again. Thereupon a committee of the 
club arrested him in February, 1857, and brought him before 
the club for the hearing of his case. It was an august and 
solemn assembly, and the trial was gone through with in ac- 
cordance with the rules of the squatter law, the verdict being 
that he should renounce all claims to the land, or be drowned 
in the Missouri river. He was given thirty minutes to decide 
the vital question whether he would give up his claim or be- 
come bait for the fishes. He refused to relinquish his title. 
He was then led to the river and a hole was cut in the ice. 
His captors then ducked him into the hole, taking good care, 
however, not to let go of him. They soon pulled him out, 
stood him upon his feet, and asked him to renounce his claim. 
As soon as he could spit the water out of his mouth he em- 
phatically declared that he would not. He was again ducked 
under the water, and a second time taken out, still remaining 
obstinate. They gave him a third submersion, and he finally 
agreed to yield to their demand, having become convinced thai 
they meant business, and would SOOtl vary the monotony of the 
transaction by letting go their hold. The half-drowned and 

half-frozen victim was brought up to the city to sign a docu- 
ment of relinquishment, but by the time they arrived at the 
appointed place it was found that the man was not able to 
stand up. the cold bath and the exposure having been too much 

for him. Dr. Mcklwee. who died about a year afterwards 
and I )r. Thrall were immediately Summoned t<> attend to the 

■• The doctors took the patient into a warm room, stripped 
"it his wet clothes, some of which were actually frozen stiff, 

Wrapped him in dry blankets, and gave him three dose* of 

whisky. This treatment, especially the stimulant, soon revive 1 

him, and he then igned the i\v<^\ of relinquishment The land 



122 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



was entered and sold to an innocent party, which ended the 
matter. Poor Callahan died a few years afterwards, his death 
being hastened, it was said, by the ducking he had received. 

Another statement of the Callahan case by an old settler 
is that Governor Cuming had pre-empted the claim from which 




A Claim club victim ducked iu the river 

it was sought to evict Callahan, and to the end that his title 
might be permanently vested by actual possession he hired 
Callahan to occupy the land for a consideration of $45 per 
month, which was regularly paid him. Callahan finally set up a 
claim of ownership, and refusing to either publish a renuncia- 
tion of his claim or vacate the premises, forcible means were 
employed, resulting in his yielding. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 123 

At another time a meeting of the clnb was held in Pioneer 
block, there being about one hundred members present. A 
man named Ziegler was brought before this tribunal on the 
very serious charge of having asserted claim to some piece 
of land belonging to a member of the club. The president put 
the usual question to him, "Guilty or not guilty?" He pleaded 
not guilty, and stated defiantly that he claimed the land and 
proposed to stick to it. His trial occupied just ten minutes. 
The verdict was that he should relinquish his claim, or 
be banished from the territory, and in case he returned the 
penalty would be death. The president, with all the solemnity 
he could command, ordered him to stand up and receive his 
sentence, which was delivered in accordance with the squatter 
1a\v in "such cases made and provided." 

Ziegler was then escorted to the river by a committee 
and ordered to depart, which he did without a second bidding, 
lie returned a few weeks later, but did not set up any more 
claims to the property, and was not troubled again by the claim 
club. 

It was on the 17th of Jul)-. 1 S 5 7 , that Daniel Murphy en- 
tered at the land office a fractional quarter of a section near 
the I Matte river, about two miles west from Larimer Mills, 
in Sarpy county. This tract joined a piece owned by two other 
men, both of whom had taken advantage of the law. and un- 
der the pre-emption law of 1841 had entered the full acreage 
allowed. They wanted more, and to accomplish their end they 
asked the aid of the ( )maha claim club. These two men offered 

to purchase the land from Murphy, but he refused 

to sell. ||c was then inveigled into an office and 
found himseli in the presence of several persons, 
among whom was a lawyer. They demanded that Murphy 
should sell, but he still objected. Threatening Language was 
■ I towards him, and it was insisted that he must surrender 
his certificate of entry. While they were thus parleying with 
him Murphy suddenly sprang through a window, while they 
were a little off their guard, and attempted to escape. But 
aught and brought hack, alter a fierce struggle in 
which his clothes were almost entirely torn <>\t. One of his 
captors, as the stor) and a- it has appeared in public 



124 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

print, pointed a revolver at his head, and another nourished a 
bowie-knife in close proximity to him. His clothes were 
searched for the certificate but it could not be found. Murphy 
had rolled it into a small ball and concealed it in his mouth. 
Being unable to find it, they directed their lawyer, who 
was a notary public, to swear Murphy to the fact that the 
certificate was lost or destroyed, and Murphy, thinking it 
advisable under the circumstances, accordingly made such an 
oath, and also signed a deed conveying away the land for the 
consideration of $1,000, as was expressed in the instrument, 
but it is said that Murphy was handed only $100. Murphy 
was then permitted to depart with the admonition that he must 
say nothing and leave town, and to this latter proposition he 
was also sworn. Murphy sought advice, but found to his sor- 
row that the power of the claim club was omnipotent and that 
he could not obtain relief. He went to work for a short time 
at day wages, but being threatened on various occasions, as 
he said he still claimed the land, he removed to Iowa, and 
thence to Missouri. He afterwards returned to Omaha, about 
the year 1870, after the death of one of the other two claim- 
ants, and brought suit for the recovery of the land. It was 
said by interested parties that this case was a "hatched-up job." 
It never came to trial, and resulted in nothing for the claimant. 
Another version of this case, as published in an old history 
of Nebraska, is as follows: "As Murphy was passing the 
office of Mr. Lowe, at the northwest corner of Harney and 
Twelfth streets, he was accosted in reference to his entry and 
was solicited to transfer the same for a consideration. He 
entered the office during the conversation, and refusing to 
assign the tract, was admonished as to the rightful ownership 
thereto, which was claimed by Mr. Lowe. Those said to have 
been present in the office at the time were Jesse Lowe, John 
A. Horbach, John T. Paynter, and James M. Woolworth. 
While the negotiation was continuing, Murphy attempted to 
escape by springing through a window, but was prevented and 
returned by Mr. Paynter. A fierce scuffle ensued, in which 
Murphy was overpowered. He attempted to swallow the cer- 
tificate of entry, but Mr. Lowe prevented him by choking him. 
After some persuasion Murphy was induced to sign a deed of 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 125 

transfer, whereupon he was releasd. In defense of this action 
it is claimed that Murphy had squatted upon lands that had 
been regularly claimed by Mr. Lowe, and the means employed 
for the enforcement of Mr. Lowe's rights were those only 
available and of sufficient force to command attention or 
obedience." 

The following story of the doings of the claim clubs is 
another good illustration of how they managed affairs. An 
Irishman had entered the claim of another at the land office, 
receiving therefor a certificate, and he was soon afterwards 
taken in hand by the club to which the first claimant of the 
land belonged. The man was knocked down, tied and put in 
a wagon, which was driven under a big cottonwood tree; a 
rope was put around his neck and he was told to say his last 
prayers, for unless he would sign over his certificate he would 
be hanged at once. He declined to either pray or sign, and was 
then strung up. He was left dangling a moment, and was 
then cut down and restored to consciousness. Being still ob- 
stinate he was again elevated, and a second time released. Ik' 
still refused to comply with the demands of the club. After 
a short consultation it was decided to lock the prisoner up, 
put a sentinel over him, and starve him into submission. The 
plan was carried into effect, and after the victim had stood it 
till he bad suffered extreme torture from the want of food, 
he sent for the leader of the club and told him he was ready 
to transfer the certificate, which he bad received at the land 
office, to the one who had first occupied the land, and also to 
sign a quit claim dwd. This being done the prisoner was set 
at liberty. 

Michael Dee, who had pre-empted a tract near Flor- 
ence, was given a run for his life by James C. Mitchell and 

ociates, who demolished his shanty and pursued him into 
"Irishtow ii," between \uith and Thirteenth streets and Jack- 
son and South creek. Dee's friends rallied to his rescue, and 
armed with guns and clubs finally drove his pursuers into the 
Douglas house, where they remained until an opportunity was 

en them to sneak out and make their escape. 
M ichael ( lonnolly, who was driven « >\\ his claim and whose 
house was .I rd. never recovered his property, lie In- 



126 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

came a well known expressman about town and continued in 
that occupation until 1884. 

In the spring of 1857 Alexander H. Baker settled upon 
and improved the southwest quarter of section 8, township 15, 
range 13, east, which at that time was public land. He built 
a house on the land and occupied it until August 10, 1857, when 
he entered the tract by pre-emption under the laws of the 
United States. 

Soon after this entry Roswell G. Pierce of New York 
city claimed to own this tract by virtue of the laws and regu- 
lations of the Omaha claim club. A few days before Baker 
had made his entry under the federal laws, Pierce and his 
agent, Herman Glass, with three or four other members of the 
club, went to Baker's house, and Pierce, as leader of the party, 
threatened Baker that unless he would agree to deed the land 
to Pierce when it was pre-empted he would, with the assistance 
of the claim club, take Baker's life, either by hanging or drown- 
ing in the Missouri river, or in some other manner as might 
be decided later. 

Baker, being afraid of his life, and believing in "safety 
first," deeded the land to Pierce at once. In 1860 Baker 
brought suit for recovery of the property and eventually won 
his case, the litigation extending through many years. It was 
not until 1878 that the United States supreme court, to which 
the case was appealed, decided in favor of Baker and issued 
a mandate to Judge Dundy to enter a decree accordingly. 
This land is now part of the city of Omaha, divided into city 
lots and occupied by homes. Mr. Baker became a prominent 
citizen and passed the remainder of his life in Omaha. He 
served as city councilman and member of the legislature. 

In June, 1857, the claim club unanimously passed a reso- 
lution that it would not protect non-resident claim holders on 
and after the first day of August, next, by agents or otherwise. 

Thomas O'Connor was then register of the club, and his 
entry book is now in the possession of Harry D. Reed. Among 
the land entries in the book are those of John M. Thayer, 
James Creighton, John A. Creighton, Thomas D. Murray, who 
built the Murray hotel, George E. Barker, C. C. Woolworth, 
brother of James M. Woolworth, J. T. Griffin, who served a 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 127 

term as postmaster, John A. Todd, O. B. and D. Selden, 
Richard Kimball, who was once city marshal, Dr. J. P. Peck, 
father of Edward Porter Peck. 

The register shows that there was a contest over George 
E. Barker's claim, and that it was settled by arbitration in 
favor of Barker, the arbitrators being Jesse Lowe, Harrison 
Johnson and Dr. George L. Miller. 

One of the pioneers of Omaha was the late Major Cryer 
of Southport, England, who returned to the city for a brief 
stay in 1886 to attend to some real estate matters in which he 
was interested. "When the claim club was organized," said 
he to the writer, "Jesse Lowe, who was president, asked me 
one day to make a requisition on John M. Thrayer for arms 
and ammunition for the defense of the property of the club 
members. Thayer had charge of the government arms which 
had been placed in his care for the defense of the life and 
property of the citizens. A few days before he had received 
instructions from Jefferson C. Davis, then secretary of war, 
to be most careful about the issue of arms to citizens for 
defense against Indians. Thayer hesitated for some time in 
honoring my requisition, but finally consented, after exacting a 
pledge that the arms should all be strictly accounted for every 
three months during their retention by the club. Of course 
the members had no right whatever to the arms any more 
than any other private citizen who might wish to go on a 
shooting expedition. Jesse Lowe knew this perfectly well, and 
told me that he had called on me to make the requisition be- 
cause being a minor it would be difficult to hold me responsible 
in case of any trouble. The arms mysteriously disappeared and 
how they were settled for I never learned. I remember (ie<>rge 
and J<>e Barker in those days lying under the hill on their claim 
with the barrels of their old muskets glittering in the moon- 
light to keep oft" claim jumpers. I was then holding down i 
claim on the Papillion, and had also a jumper's title t<> the 
ground on which the Willow Springs distillery was built in 

later years. The claim club offered to confirm my title t<> the 

Willow Springs tract if I would relinquish my Papillion claim. 
I laving a pre-empt >r's right to the Papillion land and no right 
whatever to the Willow Springs, I gave up the latter." 



128 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

It is related that the Omaha Claim club built a small 
house on wheels, moving it from one claim to another, and 
making it serve as the home of each claimant in turn during 
the necessary period of personal occupancy, as required by 
law. 

Mr. Jones always defended the Omaha Claim club, of 
which he was the first judge. He maintained that the wrongs 
complained of were the acts of a "special claim club,'' and not 
those of the original organization of 1854, and that the asso- 
ciation, which held a meeting when the land office was opened 
and determined not to permit any man to pre-empt land with- 
out the consent of the association, was not really composed of 
members of the club but a new set of regulators. 

Mr. Jones, in whose honor Jones street was named, was at 
one time owner of extensive real estate, a large part of which 
he improved with residences and business buildings suitable to 
the period in which they were erected. 

A map drawn by Edward L. Sayre, who was for many 
years connected with the Union Pacific tax department, shows 
the boundaries — as surveyed by Mr. Jones — of land claims 
in and around Omaha in 1854 and 1855. The claimants w r ere 
the Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry company, whose claim 
included the original townsite; A. D. Jones, whose claim w r as 
on the south of the townsite and was named Park Wild; 

George E. Barker, Cam. Reeves, Allen, W. B. Boyers, 

S. E. Rogers, David Lindley, Kimberlin, George Bridges, 

W. H. Almy, H. McNeeley & Co., Thomas Allen, Hadley D. 
Johnson, Thomas Jeffries, William Clancy, H. Weir, Edward 
Jeffries, M. C. Gaylord or Byars; Buckingham & Wells, Harri- 
son Johnson, Washington Hepner, Wagstaff & Crossage, R. 
B. Whitted, C. B. Smith, Hepner & Starring, A. J. Hanscom, 
D. Hazard and W. J. Cooper, Thomas Davis, B. N. Leach, M. 
Murphy, Jesse Lowe and Enos Lowe, P. G. Peterson, O. B. 
Selden, T. B. Cuming, W. C. James, A. V. Larimer. The only 
survivor of these genuine pioneers is George E. Barker, who 
is a prominent and wealthy citizen of Omaha and is hale and 
hearty in 1923 at the age of 90 years. Many of these men took 
a very prominent part in the affairs of early Omaha. 

Concerning the claim club we find the following interest- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



129 



ing paragraph in Woolworth's "Nebraska in 1857 :" "Where 
pie land has not been surveyed the United States law affords 
no protection to a squatter against a jumper, that is, a person 



1 




^QPt.tcr s f n 



Mnp of IiiikI 4-1 ii I in m lii nn<l nrounil Omiilui in 1N.VI nnil 1866 

entering upon his claim and asserting a possessory right to it. 

To afford protection in these eases the territorial Legislature 

ted an act, approved March 6, 1855, relative t<> claims 

on the public lands, by which it is provided that the squatter 



130 " THE STORY OF OMAHA 

may hold 320 acres by forming with his neighbors a club, 
which is required to make and record with the register of the 
county its regulations. By this act these clubs are invested with 
legislative powers for their neighborhoods. Their operation 
is this: A member of the club has fulfilled the requirements 
of the rules in staking out his claim, recording it, and im- 
proving it. A person steps in and claims it for himself. The 
matter is brought before the club and examined. If the second 
claimant, who is called a jumper, can not show that the first 
claimant has no right to hold the claim, under the regulations 
of the club, he is required within a certain period to withdraw 
his claim, on penalty of expulsion from the territory, or of 
death. Such is the necessity of the case that in any event in 
which he should not yield the penalty is promptly enforced. 
Most clubs construe a person who is not a citizen of the terri- 
tory a settler provided he has a tenant on the land. But few 
cases of extreme measures have arisen. These regulations 
afford pretty safe possession to the actual settler, although 
it can be hardly doubted that the law of the territory conferring 
legislative authority on the clubs is unconstitutional. Still 
public opinion is more than law." 

The rules of these clubs were the only security of the 
settler prior to the land sales, and hence much can be said in 
their favor, notwithstanding there were some abuses — an in- 
evitable result whenever men take the law into their own hands. 
Claim-jumping was considered the highest crime in those days. 
Horse stealing came next in importance. Claim clubs were a 
necessity as long as squatter titles existed, but as soon as gov- 
ernment title to land could be obtained there was no further 
use for such organizations, and accordingly the Omaha claim 
club, as well as all other similar associations in Nebraska, dis- 
banded in 1857-58. 

During the year 1856 the land in the territory was sur- 
veyed by the government. The title, the reader is reminded, 
was still vested in the government. 

The first government entry of land ever made in Ne- 
braska was in March, 1857, in which month the river counties 
were thrown upon the market. The title could only be ac- 
quired from the government under the pre-emption law of 









THE STORY OF OMAHA 131 

1841, which required a settlement on the land by the party 
making the entry. The only exception to this was in the case 
cf cities and towns, which were entered under the municipal 
act of 1844. The pre-emption laws were very liberally con- 
strued. The parties who entered the land qualified themselves 
under the law by a residence of five days on the tract claimed ; 
in after years, however, a six months residence was required 
under the same law. 

The first public sale of government lands to the highest 
bidder was made on the 5th of July, 1859. Prior to this date 
no land had been offered in the market except in the river 
counties. 

Colonel A. R. Gilmore was the first receiver of the United 
States land office at Omaha, and Colonel J. A. Parker was the 
first register. 

The land covered by the original site of Omaha was grant- 
ed in two patents — one to John McCormick, dated May 1, 
1860, the land having been bid off by him at auction at the pub- 
lic sale of July 5, 1859, acting as trustee, and deeded by him to 
David D. Belden, mayor of the city, in trust for the owners, 
and the other to Jesse Lowe, mayor, dated October 1, 1860, 
on the entry made March 17, 1857. All titles in the original 
townsite are traced back to Mayor Belden. 



CHAPTER XVI 



PIONEER JUSTICE 



HOW HORSE THIEVES WERE TREATED IN THE EARLY DAYS 

TWO HAVE THEIR HEADS SHAVED AND ARE PUBLICLY 

WHIPPED TWO OTHERS ARE TAKEN BY A MOB FROM THE 

JAIL AND HANGED TO A TREE HANGING OF BOUVE BY 

VIGILANTES FOR THE ROBBERY OF MRS. TAYLOR DOINGS OF 

THE VIGILANTES. 

In every new country the early settlers frequently feel 
called on to deal out justice to offenders in their own peculiar 
way, owing to the inefficiency of the laws and the executives, 
if any there be. Pioneer justice is swift, and although some- 
times rather harsh it is generally administered impartially and 
correctly. No guilty man escapes through the law's delay or 
through the law's technicalities. As a sample of pioneer justice 
we will relate the following tale : It was in the summer of 1856 
that a couple of vagabonds stole two horses from the settlers in 
the vicinity of Omaha. These horses were sold to some Paw- 
nee Indians near the Elkhorn river, not far from Fremont. 
One day soon afterwards the animals strayed back to Omaha 
and were recaptured by the owners. The Indians came after 
them but of course could not get them. They were questioned 
as to their claims to the animals, and replied that they had 
bought them from white men. They were then told that the 
next time any white men offered to sell horses to them to hold 
them as prisoners and give information of the fact. In a few 
days the same two men made their appearance among the 
Pawnees and offered to sell them some mules. The Indians, 
remembering that they had lost the horses which they had pur- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



133 



chased from these men, and not forgetting the instructions 
received in Omaha, at once arrested the thieves and brought 
them into the town. There was no jail in which to confine them, 
and, if there had been, society was not sufficiently developed 
to punish crime in the usual manner. So the matter was talked 
over among the citizens and others, and the conclusion was 
arrived at that the thieves should have their heads shaved, that 
each should receive thirty-nine lashes on the bare back, and 
that they should return to the Indians the amount received for 
the horses. 

The crowd at once proceeded to carry out this decision. 
A colored barber named Bill Lee, a Madagascar negro, was 




Two horse thloTCfl publicly shipped 

employed to shave their heads, and he did the work in a highly 
artistic manner, lie shaved the right side of the head of one 
of the thieves and the left side of the head of the other. 

The prisoners were led to a liberty pole, which had been 

erected the year before on the then vacant block between I bar- 
ney and Farnam and Twelfth and Thirteenth streets, in front 

of the Apex saloon, kept by Charley Green and Richard Kim- 
ball, who served a-- city marshal in 1872, and for many /ears 
was engaged in the ice business. ( >ne of the thieves was stripped 

to the hips and ln> hands tied t«» the pole. A hea\\ rawhide 
whip was brought out and everything was then reads- for the 



134 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

whipping. The performance, however, was somewhat de- 
layed as no one seemed willing to handle the rawhide. 

During the delay the trembling wretch stood waiting for 
his punishment. At last, however, it was suggested that the 
Indians should do the whipping. The Indians readily assented, 
and one of them started in rather too vigorously and had to be 
checked. Another suggestion was then made that the owners 
cf the horses that had been stolen should undertake the job. 
They accordingly did the whipping to the satisfaction of every 
one, especially the Indians, who were the only ones who really 
appeared to enjoy the performance. The owner of one of the 
horses whipped the first thief, who counted each lash as it fell, 
and when the last stroke was applied he yelled out, "That's 
all." The other thief was then tied to the pole and was whipped 
by the owner of the other horse. The names of the men who 
did the whipping have passed out of the recollection of nearly 
everybody, but one old settler said that they were Patrick 
Gurnett and Jesse Shoemaker. 

The citizens generally regretted the affair, but regarded 
it as an unavoidable necessity, as there had been so much horse 
and cow stealing. Chief Justice Ferguson was greatly opposed 
to this transaction, and did all in his power to stop it. He said 
it was all wrong, and that they had no right to take the law 
into their own hands. He directed B. P. Rankin, United States 
marshal, to disperse the mob, confine the prisoners, and give 
them a hearing. 

Rankin did not think it advisable to act in opposition to 
the sentiment of the crowd. He is said to have delivered the 
command of the judge in a voice little above a whisper. No 
one paid any attention to him. The whipping proceeded until 
the full punishment had been inflicted, after which the victims 
were conducted to the river and allowed to depart. They never 
showed themselves in this vicinity again. 

In the month of March, 1858, two men, Harvey Braden 
and John Daley, desperate characters from Harrison county, 
Iowa, were hanged by a mob for stealing horses from some 
farmers near Florence, who, after a long and determined chase, 
had captured the thieves, together with the stolen horses. The 
farmers conveyed the prisoners to Omaha, where they had a 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



135 



ireliminary hearing before a magistrate, who committed them 
to jail in default of bail to await their trial. 

A few days afterwards a small party of men early in the 
evening gathered around Omaha's first court house, which was 
ipproaching completion, and was partly occupied. One of the 
>arty stepped into the sheriff's office, and without any demon- 
oration or saying anything walked to the farther side of the 
•oom and took the key of the jail from a nail on which it was 




.yru'hliifc of llrinli'ii iinii Daley for Iiotmc stealing 



hanging. He left the office before the sheriff's wife could 
give the alarm. She was the only person there, her husband. 
Cam Reeves, being absent. 

The vigilantes then entered the jail and took out Braden 
and Daley and tied them with a rope. Dumping the prisoners 
into a wagon they drove rapidly to the north, followed by a 
large crowd of men in vehicles and on foot. The whole party 



136 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

proceeded to a point two miles north of Florence on the main 
road. The wagon was stopped under an oak tree, from which 
a stout limb projected. A rope was thrown over this limb, 
with the ends hanging down. One end of the rope was tied 
around Braden's neck, and the other around Daley's neck, the 
one rope being thus used to hang the two men. The wagon 
was then driven from beneath the thieves who were left dang- 
ling in the air, with their backs to each other, or nearly so. 

The mob quickly dispersed after the hanging. The bodies 
of the victims remained suspended till noon of the next day, 
and when they were cut down it was found that Braden, by 
some means or other — a matter of mystery, by the way, to 
everybody — had got the rope into his mouth, so that the noose 
did not pass around his neck. He had, undoubtedly, just 
previous to his being launched into eternity, worked the rope 
up to his chin, thinking in all probability that he might thus save 
his life until the crowd had disappeared, and then either be able 
to release himself, or that some one might come to his assist- 
ance. The bodies were conveyed to Omaha for the purpose of 
an inquest, and were placed in the same cell from which they 
had been taken alive on the previous evening. The next morn- 
ing they were found horribly mutilated by rats. Public senti- 
ment was very strong against the vigilantes, whoever they 
were. 

A coroner's jury was empanelled. Dr. George L. Miller 
was elected foreman, and Byron Reed was the clerk to take 
down the testimony. The inquest lasted two or three days. A 
great deal of feeling was manifested on the part of the farmers 
whose horses had been stolen, as well as on the part of the 
people throughout the country. It was even found necessary 
during the progress of the inquest to employ a number of depu- 
ties to assist the sheriff in bringing in obstinate witnesses. In one 
case it required the combined strength of four men to fetch 
in a certain witness who absolutely refused to say a word about 
the case. It was well known that he was present when the 
men were hanged. Some twenty or thirty eye-witnesses of 
the hanging were examined. They admitted the fact of being 
spectators, but said they had no hand in the affair, and did not 
know anybody who had. The coroner's jury failed to discover 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 137 

the leaders of the mob. Although the jurymen had their suspi- 
cions they could not substantiate them by any legal evidence. 
The result, however, was that four men were held for trial in 
the district court for participating to some extent in the mys- 
terious lynching. They were tried and acquitted, but not before 
they had taken a change of venue to Sarpy county. It is a 
fact that this affair ruined every one of them, mentally and 
financially. They had previously been prosperous men, but 
after this trial they met with reverse after reverse, and never 
recovered. 

The sheriff was convicted of dereliction of duty in not pre- 
venting the hanging, and was fined several hundred dollars. 
Judge Ferguson was the chief justice at the time, and James 
G. Chapman was the prosecuting attorney. The records of this 
case have all been lost. 

Sometime in the spring of 1861 there came to the house 
of George T. Taylor, on the Military road ten miles north- 
west of Omaha, where it crosses the Big Papillion, two men, 
named Bouve and Her, who were what might be termed pro- 
fessional tramps. There was no one at home except Mrs. Tay- 
lor, whom they assaulted and ordered to deliver up what money 
and valuables that were in the house. 

Mrs. Taylor, being a resolute person, attempted to scare 
them off, when Bouve seized her, threw her on a bed, tied her 
hands and otherwise fastened her so that she could not move, 
and then struck her, but without inflicting any great injury. 
He threatened to burn her alive, but Her prevented him, say- 
ing that he ought not to strike a woman or hurt her, as all they 
wanted was money. Bouve said he didn't care for the conse- 
quences. They then robbed the house of money and valuables, 
consisting mostly of silverware. Bouve was not satisfied with 
tin* plunder, and thinking that Mrs. Taylor had not revealed 
the whereabouts of all the valuables he pointed a revolver at 
her, and would no doubt have shot her had it not been for the 
second interference of Her who declared he didn't wish anv 
murder committed. The appeal of Her in Mrs. Payor's be- 
half afterwards saved his life. The thieves gathered up their 
plunder and came into ( )nialia. 

Mr. Taylor returned home s<«>n afterwards, and upon 



138 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

learning the circumstances immediately came into Omaha and 
reported the robbery. 

Mr. Taylor next went before Major Armstrong, who was 
police judge and mayor, and swore out a complaint against 
those old offenders, John Doe and Richard Roe, as the real 
names were unknown. Thomas Riley was city marshal, and 
a good officer he was, too, during the three terms that he held 
that responsible office. In his hands the warrant of arrest was 
placed, and it. was not long before he reported that he had 
discovered two men, whom he had not seen in town before, 
playing cards in a saloon under the Western Exchange Bank 
building. He had learned that they had first appeared here 
early that morning, and seemed rather free with their money. 
Riley was ordered to arrest them and bring them before the 
court, which he did without any delay. The prisoners gave 
their names as James Bouve and John S. Her, and said they 
had just come in from the west and were seeking employment 
as laborers. Judge Armstrong had them searched, and not be- 
ing able to identify them as the perpetrators of the robbery, 
and, after apologizing to them for the indignity they had 
suffered, discharged them. As soon as Bouve and Her had re- 
tired Judge Armstrong suggested to Marshal Riley that he keep 
an eye on them so that he could find them in the morn- 
ing. The judge then sent Mr. Taylor home with directions to 
bring his wife and hired man to the city before noon of the 
next day, and Marshal Riley was ordered to re-arrest 
Bouve and Her, on whom he had kept a strict watch. 
After their release they had gone back to the saloon under the 
Western Exchange building, and in a braggadocio style swore 
that they would ''make the town ring," as they were expecting 
plenty of money from friends in a day or two. When they left 
the saloon in the morning they were followed by Riley down 
to the river where he arrested them. They were no doubt in- 
tending to go to the spot where they had buried their plunder. 
Marshal Riley brought the men before Judge Armstrong. Mrs. 
Taylor had come into the city and had been placed in a back 
room by Judge Armstrong, unobserved by anybody. The court 
room was thronged with spectators, who were directed to ar- 
range themselves against the walls. Bouve and Her were 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 139 

placed among the crowd. Mrs. Taylor was then brought forth. 
Her presence created quite a sensation. She was a tall, slim, 
stately woman, past the meridian of life; her pale, intelligent 
face had a weird expression ; and altogether she impressed the 
lookers-on with the fact that she was no ordinary person and 
one that had evidently seen better days. The judge told her 
why he had sent for her, and asked if she would know 
the men who had robbed her if she should see them again. She 
sprang to her feet and, striking a tragic attitude, screamed out : 
"Yes, I could tell them among ten thousand people V* She then 
began at the head of the line, looking steadfastly into the eyes 
of each man as she slowly passed along. Finally she stopped 
in front of Bouve, and exclaimed : "You are the man. I know 
you even if you have shaved off your whiskers, for I never 
can forget those eyes!" This identification was a thrilling epi- 
sode, and the crowd felt relieved from the suspense in which 
it had been held up to this time. Mrs. Taylor then walked 
along the line a few steps farther and halted in front of Her, 
saying: "And you are the other man; you saved my life. It 
was you who said, 'Jim, don't shoot the old woman !' " 

The prisoners were committed to jail and put in separate 
cells. That night a committee of citizens visited Bouve and 
informed him that Her had confessed. They did this expecting 
to get Bouve to commit himself, but they did not succeed. They 
tried the same plan on Her by making him believe that Bouve 
had confessed. Thereupon Her told everything and made known 
where the money was hidden. The committee, accompanied by 
Marshal Riley, who took Her along, then went to the place on 
the river bank near an old brickyard north of the Union Pacific 
shops, and there by the aid of a lantern found the money and 
other articles. Her was taken back to jail. 

The next day a large meeting was held in front of Pioneer 
block. Over five hundred men were present, among them being 
the very best citizens. It was decided to try Bouve and Her, 
then and there, by a jury of twelve good men. The jurymen 
were selected, and the trial proceeded in a room in Pioneer 
block. William A. Little, afterwards chief justice, and Robert 
\. Howard defended the prisoners and pleaded eloquently 
for the law to be allowed to take its course. The jury found 



140 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

the men guilty, and the question was whether they should be 
turned over to the vigilance committee, with the recommenda- 
tion that Her should be treated leniently, or handed over to the 
regularly constituted legal authorities. The question was 
also put to the people outside, after they had been addressed 
pro and con by several eloquent speakers, and it was voted in 
accordance with the verdict of the jury that the vigilance com- 
mittee should dispose of the case. The citizens voted by step- 
ping across a dividing line, and when the crowd dispersed it 
was pretty generally understood that the vigilantes would have 
a "neck-tie sociable" that very night. And so they did. At 
midnight they proceeded to the jail and overpowered Marshal 
Riley, who was in charge, and, taking the keys from him, the 
crowd passed him outside over their heads. They then un- 
locked the door of Bouve's cell and hanged him to a beam in 
the hall, the tips of his toes touching the floor, so that the 
planks had to be taken up to let him have a free swing. 
Bouve died game, making no confession and cursing 
the crowd in the most bitter terms. It was said that he had 
killed several men in Colorado, having been a gambler and a 
thief by profession, and a daring desperado. A coroner's jury, 
consisting of Emerson Seymour, Francis Smith, Jesse Lowe, 
A. J. Hanscom, M. W. Keith, Benjamin Stickles and Thomas 
L. Shaw, returned a verdict that Bouve came to his death by 
hanging by persons, unknown to them. 

In consideration of Iler's efforts in behalf of Mrs. Taylor 
at the time of the robbery, and his confession, he was set free 
by the vigilantes, who directed him to leave the country. They 
nearly scared the life out of him by firing their revolvers after 
him as he rapidly disappeared in the darkness. He went as 
far as Bellevue and obtained employment in a saw-mill, and 
a few months later enlisted in Captain W. G. Hollins' com- 
pany of volunteers, served through the civil war, and received 
an honorable discharge as sergeant. 

This lynching, conducted by the best men of Omaha, had 
a salutary effect on the vagabonds and desperadoes who in- 
fested the city and vicinity. 

The vigilance committee had considerable work to per- 
form during the early days of Omaha and they did it well and 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 141 

effectually. At one time the gamblers became very numerous 
and bold, and it was decided to rid the town of them. The 
vigilantes accordingly proceeded to the rooms of the gamblers 
at a late hour of the night, and by the light of a lantern would 
make the victim get up and hand him a letter ordering him to 
depart within the next twenty-four hours. They all stood with 
revolvers cocked, and in the dim light, masked as they were, 
they presented a hideous appearance. The object of their wrath 
needed no second warning. Another hint to leave was the 
painting of a skull-and-cross-bones on the door of the gambler's 
room. It was not long before the gamblers betook themselves 
to a more congenial clime. 

In the winter of 1859 a young man was caught in an at- 
tempt to burglarize a jewelry store. He was handed over to the 
vigilance committee, who took him to the bluff just east of the 
Herndon house, and informed him that they were going to 
bang him. The fellow begged of one of the crowd, whom he 
knew, to "excuse him from hanging this time." Amid a shout 
of laughter he was strung up to a tree, when some one cut the 
rope, allowing him to plunge into a snow-drift fifteen feet 
deep. When he emerged he was trying to loosen the rope 
around his neck. The vigilantes opened fire on him, and he 
took to his heels down the hill and over the river on the ice, 
never stopping till he reached Council Bluffs. 

A man engaged in passing counterfeit money was nabbed 
by the vigilantes, who made even- arrangement to hang him 
in a cellar, when he confessed, implicating a Nebraska City 
resident, who thereupon left the country. The sheriff "rescued"' 
the prisoner, by previous agreement, from the vigilantes, and 
put him in jail, from which he afterwards escaped with several 
other prisoners. 

A noted desperado, named Bill Cane, conducted a saloon 
and dance hall in I860 in the vicinity of "The Lone Tree," near 
the ferr\ landing. This resort had become a very rough place 
and was working a great deal <>f harm. ( hit night a crowd of 
men, composed principal!) of the vigilantes, marched down t<> 

this dive and ordered Cane to close up and leave town inside 

<»i twenty-four hours. The next da} he packed up everything, 

even the lumber with which Ins shack was constructed, and 



142 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



putting all his effects on a steamboat he departed for Leaven- 
worth. 

We have related only a few of the exploits of the vigi- 
lantes, but they are sufficient to illustrate their operations, 
which were always for the good of the community, and we 
have yet to hear of a case wherein they made a mistake. 







CHAPTER XVII 



FIRST LEGAL EXECUTIONS 



MURDER OF NEFF BY TATOR CONVICTION AND EXECUTION 

OF THE MURDERER MURDER OF WOOLSEY D. HIGGINS BY 

OTTWAY G. BAKER CONVICTED AND HANGED. 

Sometime in the month of June, 1863, a boy named Hor- 
ace Wilson, employed by a Mr. Maxwell to gather driftwood 
along the Missouri river bottoms north of the city, found the 
dead body of a man in the stream near the shore. He in- 
formed some men in camp near by, who came and took the 
body out of the water. The body was bound around the arms 
and neck with a log chain, and around the legs with another 
chain. An inquest was held and the corpse was identified as 
that of Isaac H. Neff. It was evident that he had been most 
foully murdered. It was learned in the course of a few days 
that Neff had recently come from Denver to Omaha with sev- 
eral unloaded teams in company with Cyrus H. Tator. The next 
discovery was the finding of two or three of Neff's empty 
wagons "ii the high ground above Sulphur Springs, where 
they had remained a week or two. A further investigation 
disclosed the fact that Tator had started from Omaha with a 
load of goods for Denver a few days before, taking with him 
one of Neff's wagons. 

Thomas L. Sutton, the sheriff, overtook Tator in Colfax 
county, and arrested him on the charge of murder. He was 
brought back to ( )inalia. where the district COtirl was in session. 

Chief Jn^tice Kellogg presiding. A special grand jury was im- 
mediately ordered, and he was indicted on the 17th of June. 
Charles 11. Brown, assisted by George B. Lake, appeared 



144 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

for the state, and A. J. Poppleton and William A. Little for 
the defense. The argument of Mr. Poppleton was a most bril- 
liant, eloquent and logical effort. Tator was convicted, and 
the supreme court affirmed the decision. 

The object of the murder was robbery. It was supposed 
that Neff had considerable money on his person. After Tator 
killed Neff he sold the dead man's team to Heber P. Kimball, 
then living at or near the Mormon town of Florence, and who 
later became a prominent man among the Mormons in Utah. 
Kimball was one of the most important witnesses against the 
defendant. Tator had also tried to sell the wagons, but fail- 
ing in this he left them where they were found. 

The execution took place on Friday, August 28, 1863, it 
being the first legal execution in the territory, although there 
had previously been several hangings by lynch law. There were 
about two thousand spectators, among them being persons 
from all parts of the territory and from western Iowa. 

At the request of Sheriff Sutton, General McKean de- 
tailed a guard of forty soldiers from Company C, 7th Iowa 
cavalry, who preserved the strictest order. 

Rev. T. B. Lemon, of the Methodist Episcopal church, ad- 
ministered the Holy Communion to the prisoner in his cell in 
the morning, and afforded him all the spiritual consolation in 
his power. 

At 1 1 o'clock Sheriff Sutton brought the prisoner from his 
cell and, assisted by City Marshal Thomas Riley, placed him 
in a buggy and drove to the place of execution, the military 
forming a hollow square about the vehicle. The road was 
lined with buggies, wagons, and people on horseback and on 
foot. 

The place of execution was near Sulphur Springs, in the 
immediate vicinity of the spot where the murder was com- 
mitted. The scaffold was a plain frame, four beams erect, with 
a platform and trap door, with steps leading up to the plat- 
form. There was a short seat on each side of the platform, 
where were seated Rev. Mr. Lemon, the condemned Tator, 
Sheriff Sutton and Marshal Riley. 

The prisoner did not appear depressed, but assumed a 
somewhat cheerful expression. In fact he was remarkably 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 145 

self-possessed for one under such dreadful circumstances. This 
self-possession he had maintained all through his imprison- 
ment and trial. 

Tator addressed the assembled multitude from his manu- 
script for about half an hour, reviewing the trial, the circum- 
stances of his arrest, and maintaining his innocence. He read 
his address in a full, clear tone with some considerable emotion, 
but with scarcely any perceptible trembling. Among other 
things that he said was that he did not suppose so many people 
had assembled merely for the purpose of witnessing the suffer- 
ing he was about to endure, but more to see him and hear what 
he had to say. 

After the conclusion of his address a prayer was offered 
by Rev. Mr. Lemon. Sheriff Sutton then placed the rope around 
the prisoner's neck, and, assisted by Marshal Riley, tied his 
hands behind his back, drew the black cap over his head, pushed 
the lever, and the trap door flew open. Tator died almost 
without a struggle. 

Tator was born in Chatham, Columbia county, New York, 
in 1833. He studied law in the office of Elijah Payne, in 
the city of. Hudson, and was admitted to the bar when about 
twenty-two or twenty-three years of age. In 1856 he emi- 
grated to Kansas, and was elected probate judge of Lykins 
county in 1857, was re-elected in 1859, and was afterwards 
a member of the Kansas legislature. He was generally called 
Judge Tator. In I860 he went to Colorado, and from there 
he came to Omaha in company with the man he murdered. He 
left a wife, whose maiden name was Mary E. Bishop, to whom 
he was married in 1858, and by whom he had one child. 

The second legal execution in Omaha was thai of Ottwav 
G. Baker for the murder of Woolsey I), rliggins. The mur- 
der was a most brutal butchery, and was committed on the 
night of the -1st of November, 1866, in the grocery store of 
Will 1\. King- a two-story brick building still standing at the 
southeast corner of Farnam and Twelfth streets, rliggins, 
who was a fine young man and well liked by everybody, was 
the bookkeeper and Baker was the porter. They slepl together 
in the store, fliggins in the afternoon, after banking hours, 
had received $1,500 in currency, and had put it in the safe, the 



146 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

keys of which he always carried. Baker was aware of the fact 
that Higgins had received this money, and resolved to obtain 
possession of it, which he could not very well do without killing 
him. The two men retired as usual, Baker going to bed about 
half past eight, and Higgins some time afterwards. At the dead 
hour of night Baker crept softly out of bed, and procuring an 
axe, returned to the bedside and dealt the sleeping Higgins two 
terrible blows, causing instant death. Baker then went to the 
safe, and with the keys unlocked it, taking out the money. 
Putting on his clothes he ran out of the back door, and placing 
the monev in an old tin can hid it under the sidewalk on the 

J 

west side of Eleventh street, between Harney and Howard. 
He returned to the store and descended to the cellar where he 
fired the building by putting up some boards against the floor 
and saturating some rags with coal oil. After applying a 
match he went to the back door and stood there with his pistol 
in his hand until the fire had burned through the floor and the 
smoke had filled the room. His intention was to destroy ail 
trace of the terrible crime. The fire was discovered by an out- 
side party, and the alarm was given to the fire department, 
which consisted of only one hand engine and a hook and ladder 
company. At about the same time Baker fired a shot into his 
left arm to make it appear as though some one had entered 
the store, murdered Higgins and attacked himself, and throw- 
ing the pistol away he also gave the alarm by running out of 
the rear door and yelling "fire! murder! thieves!" During the 
progress of the fire the revolver exploded several times, it hav- 
ing become heated by the flames. The fire was extinguished, 
and the murdered Higgins was found in his bed. Baker im- 
mediately invented a rather plausible story. He said he was 
awakened by the smoke coming into the room, and that he 
got up and went to the cellar door, as the fire appeared to be 
in the basement, and there he met some one who fired at him, 
wounding him in the arm, and that he then ran out on the street 
and gave the alarm. 

His story was not generally believed as there were many 
suspicious circumstances pointing directly to him as the per- 
petrator of the deed. He was taken into custody next morn- 
ing. One thing that led to his arrest, more than anything else, 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 147 

was the finding of a lot of matches scattered all over the bed. 
It was thought that this was done by the murderer to cause the 
bed to burn the more rapidly when it took fire ; but the matches 
being on the bed was a pure accident, as was shown in his con- 
fession. It appears that the matches were knocked off from a 
shelf on to the bed by the stream of water from the engine. 
At the examination before the coroner's jury it was clearly 
demonstrated from the manner of the wound that no one but 
Baker himself could have fired the shot which hit him in the 
arm. He was tried and convicted. George W. Doane, district 
attorney, and John I. Redick appeared for the state, and 
Colonel Savage, Ben. Sheiks, Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Parks for 
the defendant. The case was taken to the supreme court, 
which overruled the motion for a new trial, and decided that 
the sentence of death should be executed. Up to this time-- 
considerably over a year after his arrest — there were some few 
persons who believed Baker innocent; but upon learning that 
his fate was irrevocably fixed he sent for his spiritual adviser, 
Father Egan, of the Catholic church, to whom he made a con- 
fession and told where the money was secreted. Father Egan, 
accompanied by Colonel Savage and John DeLaney, according- 
ly proceeded to the spot and there found the money. Baker 
also confessed that he had about a month before the murder 
set lire to the wooden buildings at the southwest corner of 
1 amain and Thirteenth streets, the fire burning from the cor- 
ner up to Samuel Burns' brick building. 

Maker was hanged on St. Valentine's day, February 14, 

1868, about a quarter of a mile west "i" Capitol square. The 

cution was superintended by Sheriff Eioel, Deputy Sheriff 

Seymour and Father Egan, and was witnessed by about S.000 

people, 500 of whom were women. 

The young woman to whom Higgins was engaged, Miss 
Lizzie Herd, a very pretty girl, was so overcome at her lover's 

tragic death that she died within >i\ months after its occur- 
rence. 

The following is the principal portion of Baker's con- 
fession, dated January 28, 1868: 

"It was not my intention to conceal anything connected 
with tin- heinous crime, though, as the details of the circum- 



148 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

stances connected with it will only serve to open again the yet 
bleeding wounds of Mr. Higgins and his family, I did not 
intend at first to make them known. Mr. Doane, in his theory, 
came very near the facts in the case. I first planned this hor- 
rible crime in the old store, but was prevented from executing 
it by God's mercy until that night; not that there was not 
money enough — on several occasions there was more. I went 
to bed that night about half-past eight; what time Higgins 
came to bed I do not know. When I waked, I got out as easily 
as possible, went all round the center tier of boxes to get on 
the south side of Higgins, came up, made one or two offers 
(efforts), and was on the point of giving it up, when the devil 
put it into my head that Higgins had only been shamming 
sleep, and would tell all that I had done. This gave me the 
heart to commit the crime. I struck the first blow. He drew a 
long breath. I thought he was on the point of hallooing. I 
gave him another; then went to the safe, got the money, put 
on my clothes, went out of the back door down to where the 
money was found, leaving the back door open till I came back. 
I pulled off my clothes; went into the cellar, set fire to the 
building by setting some boards up against the floor, took the 
oil can, put some coal oil in some old rags, set fire to them and 
then went up stairs. I then went to the back door, and stood 
there with the pistol in my hand until the fire burned through 
the floor and the smoke had filled the room. Then I fired the 
shot which wounded my arm, then gave the alarm, and threw 
the pistol away; but the devil always looks out for his own. 
He carried it to the fire. I ran out of the back door, halloo- 
ing fire ! murder ! thieves ! The first man who came up had on 
a gray overcoat. At this time I was at the corner of Farnam 
and Twelfth streets. There I threw away my hat. The man 
went to the engine house to ring the bell. I ran backwards 
and forwards two or three times there; when three or four 
men got there I burst in the west side door; went in, got my 
boots, threw one large case of tobacco out of the doorway, and 
then put on my boots. By this time there were six or seven 
men there; then two shots went off. I got away from the 
door, but the other two shots did not go off for some time, 
perhaps two minutes. That was all the shots which I heard, 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 149 

and it was all that was fired, in my belief. When the crowd 
got there with the engine, the west side doors were closed. 
This was some more of the devil's work. Now, when the 
engine began to play, the fire had got upon the swinging shelf; 
the water was now thrown upon the matches, which went 
tumbling down on the bed. This was not the work of the devil, 
it was God's hand which threw the matches down to show the 
devil that he might help the guilty, but God was the one who 
administered justice. The fact of the matches being scattered 
all over the bed led to my arrest, but they formed no part 
of my plan. The lamp burner was an old one which had 
been saved from the old store. There was only one fire 
kindled ; that was done so as to cause the floor to break in 
there, so that the body would be crushed by the weight of the 
goods. It was not my intention to burn the whole store. There 
were only five shots fired to my knowledge, one before the 
alarm and four after. There was no noise to my knowledge 
in the store that night; if there was, it was while Mr. Beale 
was there with Higgins; if they made any, it did not awaken 
me. After I had my arm dressed I went back to the front of 
the store. Dr. Peabody said to me, 'If I had a friend in there 
I would go in, in spite of anybody.' Then I broke open the 
front door, the one with the lock on it. I broke the glass out, 
pulled back the bolts and went in, but could not go back a great 
ways for fear the floor would give way. I dressed and un- 
dressed before I gave the alarm; then put on my boots after 
there were three or four men there. I alone am guilty; let me 
pay the penalty of the crime. I should have had to implicate 
Others who are innocent had I got a new trial. 

"With regard to the two previous tires I desire to state 

that I set the new store on tire t<> prevent W. R, King from 

moving in SO SOOn. I did not Stop there over five minutes after 
I had done it. for fear I should be missed from the store; then 
I got back to the old store without either Mr. Nave or Ilig- 
lous knowing that I had been out. and went t<> bed. After- 
wards I jet fire to Hellman's warehouse t<> draw Higgins at- 
tention, and besides t<> prevent any dq»<«sit> from being made 

on that day. When this lire was discovered I was at the new 
store at work, and had been there about twentv minutes. 1 did 



150 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

not start at the first, but waited till there was quite a crowd; 
then I had no idea it would do so much damage as it did. 

"Mr. Donovan has been a sufferer by me also on two 
different occasions. I went into his shop which he kept on 
Fourteenth street, and on each occasion took two pairs of 
boots, amounting in all to about forty dollars, more or less. 

"I must now return my sincere thanks to Judge Lake 
for his leniency towards me all through the trial. Mr. Doane 
will also accept my thanks for the feeling manner in which 
he prosecuted me. 

"•Mr. Redick, I freely forgive you for the way in which 
you made your plea in this case. 

"I must not forget my own counsel, for they have labored 
with the utmost faithfulness ever since I have been incarcer- 
ated to obtain testimony and counsel for me. I return my 
heartfelt thanks for the same. I am also thankful to Mr. 
Hopkins; also to Mr. Parks, who exerted himself in my de- 
fense with his able talent. Mr. Morris has not only given me 
legal advice, but has done me many personal favors. Colonel 
Savage has all the thanks imaginable for the able manner in 
which he has conducted my case, since he has become connected 
with it. May he never again whilst a member of this bar have 
so unworthy a client. 

"I have never let any one into my confidence until after 
the supreme court was in session, so that neither one or the 
other of my counsel knew whether I was guilty or innocent. 
I thank the community for their leniency towards me. Had 
this been in any other part of Nebraska, besides Omaha, I 
should never have had any trial; but thank God, the law has 
had its course, and I have had a fair and impartial trial. 

"I desire also in this connection to thank all those who 
would place religious instruction within my reach, but I be- 
lieve only in the Catholic church, and wish to die in her com- 
munion, as it was their instruction alone that brought peace 
and hope to my soul. 

O. G. Baker." 



CHAPTER XVIII 



SOME NOTABLE CRIMES OE EARLY TIMES 



THE KILLING OF GEORGE DAVIS BY WILLIAM BROADDUS — MUR- 
DER OF CONSTABLE M'CHEANE BY BARNEY DORAN — DAN 

PARMELEE KILLS TOM KEELER IN A DUEL JIMMIE BURKE 

FATALLY SHOOTS MORRIS WEIL — ASSASSINATION OF COLONEL 

WATSON B. SMITH — HARRY KING SHOT TO DEATH BY LIBBIE 
BEE4 III.KK. 

The Metropolitan hotel — torn down in 1918 to give place 
to an eight-story cold storage house — was the scene of a memo- 
rable tragedy October 5. 1869. The little daughter of William 

BroaddtlS, who was living at the Metropolitan, had been de- 
coyed from the rear yard of the hotel into a nearby vacant 
house and there criminally assaulted by George Davis, as was 

SOOn afterwards learned. Broaddus found Davis at his resi- 
<1( nee in the immediate vicinity and told him that he would like 
t<- have him come to the hotel as he wished to talk about a mat- 
ter of business. Davis unsuspectingly accompanied Broaddus 

and was brought into the presence of the little girl, who was 
eight years old. "Do you know this man?" asked the father. 
"Yes, papa; that was the man that hurt me; make him go 
away," answered the child. The father drew a derringer from 

his pocket and >\\>>{ Davis, who rushed down a stairway, and. 
crossing the street, fell down and died. Broaddus .surrendered 
1. 1 1 Colonel 1 'arker, one of the propriet< >rs of the hotel, who ac- 
companied him to the county jail. The prevailing opinion was 
that Broaddus would be acquitted, and it was therefore with 
souu- considerable surprise that the pub! ived the verdict 

of Conviction, At the trial Judge lake presided, and the | 



152 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

was prosecuted by John C. Cowin, the district attorney. Colonel 
Savage and Charles H. Brown defended Broaddus, who was 
sentenced to five years imprisonment for manslaughter. 

Among the "bad men" of Omaha in the early months of 
1870 was Barney Doran. Several crimes were charged against 
him but lack of evidence and other reasons delayed attempts 
to arrest him. Doran was regarded as a desperate character, 
powerful physically and quick and sure in the use of deadly 
weapons. On June 25, 1870, a warrant for his arrest on the 
charge of criminal assault on his stepmother was issued and 
given to Constable Jere McCheane to serve. Doran was known 
to frequent a shanty on the hillside near the old government 
corral at Thirteenth and Webster streets, and there he was 
sought on a Saturday night. Constable McCheane was accom- 
panied by his deputy, Patrick Rockbud, and Colonel William 
Mulcahy. Failing to get a response to their knocks on the 
door the trio forced an entrance and by the light of a candle 
found Doran in bed. Doran leaped to the floor and attacked 
the officers. In the melee the light was extinguished. Doran, 
however, was overpowered and the candle was relighted. The 
officers searched his clothing as well as the premises for arms 
before allowing enough freedom to dress. Just as he had fin- 
ished dressing Doran knocked the candle from Rockbud's 
hands and in the darkness drew a dirk from a satchel and 
slashed the officers. Constable McCheane was the first to fall, 
pierced through the body. Colonel Mulcahy was cut in the 
shoulder. Deputy Rockbud defended himself with a chair and 
escaped with a slight wound on the w r rist. Doran fled. 

The attack on the officers and the flight of Doran aroused 
intense public indignation. Early Sunday morning crowds 
gathered in the vicinity of Farnam and Fifteenth streets, near 
the McCheane home, where the wounded constable had been 
taken. McCheane died of his wounds the following day. About 
the same time Doran was captured and placed in jail. Threats 
of lynching were heard and a large number of men assembled 
in the vicinity ready for business if a leader should present 
himself. Dr. George I. Miller, Judge Lake and George \\ . 
Doane urged the indignant citizens to let the law take its course, 
and their advice was heeded. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



153 



Doran was tried for murder and the jury returned a ver- 
dict of manslaughter. He was sentenced to ten years imprison- 
ment and was soon made a "trusty" in the penitentiary from 
which he escaped. 

On a Friday in May, 1871, Patrick McNamara, an ex- 
pressman, was shot and killed by Charles Phelps. 

In May, 1872, Albert Jones, a negro, invaded the house 
of one Kate McNamara and in a fight that ensued the woman 
fatally stabbed him. For this murder she was sentenced t< > 
five years in the penitentiary. 




I'nini iiiici aetweea Dm Panaelce amd Tom Keeler« the latter aelaa; kin»>d 

The killing of Tom Keeler by Dan Parmelee near Elk- 
horn, December 5, 1874, was a rather sensational affair, being 
somewhat in the nature of a duel. Parmelee, a prominent resi- 
dent oi Omaha, had a grain warehouse at Elkhora and owned 

a farm adjoining that Of Keeler. A Feud bad existed between 

the two men for some time owing to a dispute about a piece 

Oi land. Both men were on their way to their farms, when 

their old quarrel was renewed. 

William Philpot, a young man in Parmelees employ, was 
driving a loaded wagon in the lead, and Paramelee was riding 
in a light spring wagon. Keeler drove ahead of Philpot and 
thereupon Parmelee called to Philpot to stop. "Do you want to 
fight; sa\ ' shouted Keeler. "Go to hell!" replied 

Parmelee. Keeler picked up ins double-barreled shotgun and 



154 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

jumped to the ground. Parmelee with his repeating rifle did 
likewise, and fired two shots at his opponent, neither taking 
effect. Keeler returned the fire, one of the buckshot slightly 
wounding Parmelee in the arm and other shots hitting his team, 
causing it to run away. Keeler fired again, missing Parmelee 
but scaring his own horses, which started on a run. Keeler, 
knowing that the revolver that he carried was useless at long 
range, now ran towards a cornfield. A bullet from Parmelee's 
rifle hit him in the back and passed clear through his body. 
Keeler's appeal for mercy proved of no avail. Parmelee fired 
two more shots at the wounded man, one bullet hitting him in 
the neck and the other in the head. That was the end of Tom 
Keeler. "I guess he's dead," said Philpot; "you better go and 
see." "You may do that if you wish," replied Parmelee, as he 
got into his wagon and drove away, soon after surrendering to 
Deputy Sheriff Henry Stanton. Nothing was ever done in the 
matter. Keeler was a man of bad reputation and was consid- 
ered a desperado. He had several times threatened to kill Par- 
melee. In the early days he had four ranches near Kearney 
and a wife on each ranch. Parmelee was a member of the 
territorial legislature of 1866 and the two following legisla- 
tures. 

On Sunday night, September 1, 1878, Austin Kotiza, 
while attending a ball at the Bohemian Garden, was stabbed 
to death in a fight in which several men participated. 

Perry McCormick, a freighter from Sidney, was shot to 
death April 15, 1879, by James Davis and his wife in their 
pawnshop. The shooting was the result of a quarrel about 
the purchase of a revolver. At their second trial Davis and his 
wife were acquitted. 

Some of the old timers will remember Jimmie Burke, a 
professional gambler and expert billiard player, who shot and 
killed Morris Weil, a Texas cattle man. On a September Sat- 
urday afternoon, 1878, while they were playing pin pool for 
money in Byron Clark's saloon a dispute arose over the amount 
of Weil's indebtedness. Weil refused to pay and abused Burke 
in the vilest language. "I'll bet you'll pay," said Burke, who 
walked out of the saloon and secured a revolver. A little later 
he trailed Weil to the harness and saddle shop of G. H. & J. S. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 155 

Collins, where he was engaged in conversation with W. A. 
Paxton, N. P. Clark, Charles Landrock and A. W. 
Trumble. Burke, who was accompanied by J. D. Spearman, 
entered the store with his revolver drawn, and said to Weil : 
"You won't keep your word." The next moment he shot Weil 
in the breast. Weil grabbed the weapon, and seizing Burke 
threw him through the glass partition of the office, and, follow- 
ing him to the sidewalk, tried to cock the captured revolver 
and fire at his assailant, but he staggered and fell to the floor, 
dying in a few minutes. Burke attempted to escape but was 
caught by Officer Byrne. Burke was brought to trial before 
Judge Savage. Charles J. Greene prosecuted the case, and C. 
A. Baldwin and E. F. Smvthe defended. The prisoner's plea 
was insanity. Burke was convicted of murder in the second 
degree and was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment. He 
served several years and was then pardoned through the efforts 
of his sister, a highly educated woman, who was a school teach- 
er in Kentucky. After his release Burke went to Portland, 
Oregon, and there found employment in the various billiard 
rooms. Jimmie Burke was a Kentuckian and was the black 
sheep of a refined family. He was polished in his manners, 
was well educated, and was generally regarded as a man of 
gentle disposition. His action in shooting Weil was a great 
surprise to all his acquaintances. 

A saloon, which occupied No. 312 South Fifteenth street, 
was the scene of a murder at an early hour in the morning of 
Christmas day, 1881, the bartender, Oscar Hammer, being the 
victim. He went to the street door to quiet some loud talk 
between Frank Kenniston and Charles Kosters. A sharp crack 
was heard. It sounded somewhat like a pistol shot. Hammer 
fell backward into the saloon. The bystanders, rushing to his 
assistance, found that he was dead. He had either been struck 
on the head with a blunt instrument or had been knocked down 
with a blow from a man's fist and had been killed by striking 
his head on the floor. Kosters was held for trial, and through 
the efforts of John C. Cowin was acquitted. 

Intense indignation was caused in Omaha by the murder 
i f Colonel Watson B. Smith, clerk of the United States dis- 
trict court, some tune in the night of November 4, 1881. Mrs. 



156 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Smith, becoming alarmed at his failure to come home at his 
usual hour, telephoned to Norman Kuhn, a druggist, whose 
store was in Creighton block, adjacent to the federal building, 
to make an investigation. This was about 1 o'clock in the 
morning. Mr. Kuhn found Colonel Smith lying dead in the 
hall in front of his office door. A bundle of papers lay in the 
doorway, the door being partly open with the key in the lock. 
In the lower part of the left leg of his trousers was found a 
new revolver with one chamber empty. Colonel Smith had 
been shot in the left side of the back of his head. The cor- 
oner's jury rendered a verdict of premeditated murder by a 
party unknown. 

Colonel Smith had been very active in his endeavors to 
have the Slocumb high license liquor law strictly enforced. 
This law had recently been passed and had gone into effect. 
He had received numerous threatening letters, and it was sup- 
posed that his murder was due to his opposition to the liquor 
element. Notwithstanding a large reward for the arrest of the 
murderer, and the efforts of expert detectives, the mystery sur- 
rounding Colonel Smith's death was never solved. Only one 
arrest was made, but there was no evidence on which to hold 
the suspected man, named Arndt, who had had some misunder- 
standing in regard to some litigation in the United States dis- 
trict court and was reported to have made vague threats. It 
was thought by some persons that the death of Colonel Smith 
was an accident caused by the falling of his own revolver while 
he was trying to lock his office door or bending over to pick up 
something which he had dropped, and that the weapon slipped 
up his trouser leg when he fell to the floor. It was asserted 
that this revolver belonged to the deceased, a similar weapon 
having been purchased by Deputy United States Marshal Ball, 
as it was claimed, for and at the request of Colonel Smith. 

One of the most sensational crimes ever committed in 
Omaha was the murder of Harry King. This young man was 
the son of Henry W. King, head of the clothing firm of H. W. 
King & Co. of Chicago. Harry King came to Omaha in 1883 
to close out the stock of Andrews & Co. — "The Two Orphans" 
— who were indebted to his father's company. He was ac- 
companied by Major R. S. Wilcox, who had for many years 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 157 

been employed in the service of King & Co. After "The Two 
Orphans" stock had been disposed of at an assignee sale Ma- 
jor Wilcox and Harry King thought it would be a good plan 
to open a branch house in Omaha, and H. W. King coincided 
with their view. The store was at once stocked and Major 
Wilcox was placed in charge, and remained as the local man- 
ager until 1913. This establishment became one of the string 
or stores of Browning, King & Co., in which firm H. W. King 
became a partner. 

One morning in 1888 a young woman, who arrived in 
Omaha on an early train from Chicago, went to the Paxton 
hotel and asked to be directed to the room occupied by Harry 
King. Having secured this information she took the elevator 
to the second floor and knocked at King's room. He replied that 
he would dress and answer the summons in a few minutes. 
When he opened the door he was confronted by Libbie Beechler 
— that was the woman's name — who drew a revolver. King ran 
north and west along the balcony. A shot rang out. Reaching 
the west end of the balcony King fell down the stairway to the 
half-way landing. Guests of the hotel who were in the lobby 
rushed to his assistance. He was dead. He was shot in the 
back, the bullet passing through his body in the region of the 
heart. Miss Beechler was jailed and held without bail. It 
developed that she had been the mistress of King, who had dis- 
carded her, paying her a sum of money in settlement. He then 
married a Missouri girl. lie had been married only a few 
days when the tragedy occurred. His wife was occupying the 
hotel room with him at the time. 

The Beechler woman, who had come all the way from 
Chicago to gratify her spirit of revenge, was defended by 
John C. Cowin, who assailed the character of King in un- 
measured terms and eloquently played up "the wronged wo- 
man.' 1 The sympathetic jury, moved by the eloquence of her 
lawyer, and no doubt influenced by the deep mourning of Miss 
Beechler, returned a verdict of not guilty. It was a startling 
surprise to the public. Mi^s Beechler immediately departed 

lor her old haunts in ( leveland, ( )hio. 

Harry King had resided m ( )malia only a few months but 

had made a host of friends. He was a handsome young man 



158 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



— a magnificent specimen of physical manhood — and pos- 
sessed a strong personal magnetism 




CHAPTER XIX 



THE QUESTION OF SLAVERY 



SLAVERY IN NEBRASKA IN THE EARLY DAYS A BITTER FIGHT 

IN THE LEGISLATURE PASSAGE OF AN ABOLITION BILL 

VETOED BY GOVERNOR BLACK ANOTHER BILL PASSED AT THE 

NEXT LEGISLATURE, AND AGAIN VETOED, BUT IS PASSED OVER 
THE VETO. 

How few people of today know or believe that Nebraska 
was once a slave territory! The first census of the territory, 
taken in 1854, gave a population of 2,719 whites and 13 slaves. 
"When I came to Nebraska in 1859," said Colonel E. D. Web- 
ster to the writer, "there were seven or eight slaves owned 
near Nebraska City by some emigrants from Missouri, under 
the Buchanan idea that the constitution of the United States 
gave them the right to hold them here. In the fall of 1859 a 
colored servant girl from Missouri passed through Omaha 
way-billed as an express package and consigned to a United 
States army officer at Fort Kearney. Very few people saw 
anything wrong about it. and no one raised any fuss. Some 
few anti-slavery people merely remarked that it was a curious 
express package." 

The question of abolishing slavery came up at the 
extra session of the legislature in the fall of 1858. Kepresenta- 
tive S. G. Daily introduced a bill for its abolishment in the 
territory of Nebraska, but n<» decisive action was taken. The 

matter w;h revived at the next on, however, by William 
II. Taylor, who, on I December 7. 1859, introduced in the coun- 
cil "a bill to abolish and prohibit slavery or involuntary servi- 
tude." It was referred t<> a committee consisting of Mr. I 



160 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

lor, George W. Doane and Dr. Miller, who made a report on 
December 12th. In the course of his report Mr. Taylor showed 
that slavery did practically exist in Nebraska. "There never 
has been to my knowledge," said Mr. Taylor, "a federal officer 
appointed to any office in this territory who has not brought 
with him into the territory a negro or negroes, who have been 
and are now held in slavery. E. A. DeLonde, receiver of pub- 
lic moneys at Nebraska City, has one or two slaves. Now, if 
slavery does not exist here, then the slave is free the instant 
he sets foot on Nebraska soil, provided he came with his master 
for the purpose of residing in Nebraska. I know of my own 
knowledge that Hon. S. F. Nuckolls, a democratic member of 
the territorial legislature, had three colored persons whom he 
claimed as slaves up to a very late period. Two of these per- 
sons escaped from Nuckolls in the winter of 1858-59, and 
the other, a man of twenty-five years of age, was sold by him, 
if I am correctly informed, and carried to some of the southern 
slave-holding states, as a slave, in the spring of 1859. This 
man had been a resident of Nebraska for about three years. 
Mr. A. Majors, one of the government contractors, has a 
number of colored persons in Nebraska City whom he claims 
as slaves now in the territory of Nebraska. * * * Again, as 
evidence that slavery does exist, and is considered to be a legal 
institution here, I have only to cite the fact that Hon. S. F. 
Nuckolls, before alluded to, has instituted suit in the second 
judicial court of this territory against certain parties residing 
in the state of Iowa, for the value of two colored persons, his 
slaves, whom he alleges were abducted from him in the winter 
cf 1858-59, which suit is now pending in said court and un- 
decided." In concluding his report Mr. Taylor urged the pass- 
age of the bill, and gave his reasons therefor. His report was 
laid over for future action. 

Dr. Miller also made a report, in which he deemed it "ex- 
tremely injudicious for the legislature to lend itself to the agi- 
tation of a subject which, to the people of Nebraska, is con- 
ceded to be of no practical importance. * * * Having 
made diligent search, with a view of ascertaining whether any 
slaves exist in Nebraska, to their (the committee's) utter sur- 
prise, after four days anxious inquiry and labor, they are 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 161 

prepared to report to the council that south of the Platte river, 
owned and held as such by highly respectable gentlemen, there 
are six and a half slaves, the fractional portion referring to a 
small negro boy who is in excellent and humane keeping in 
that section of the territory. * * * We are happy to add, 
on the best authority, that their servitude is entirely voluntary, 
and that they are perfectly contented with their lot. * * * 
One of them, we are informed, proves a great burden to his 
owner by being subject to fits. What can be done to lighten 
the burden of the master or remedy the terrible malady of the 
slave we leave to your careful and candid consideration. * * 
Under the operation of incidental causes, aided by the stealing 
propensities of an unprincipled set of abolitionists, inhabiting 
a place called Civil Bend, Iowa, the number has been reduced 
to the insignificant figure of four and a half slaves, all told. 
This furnishes abundant proof of the entire uselessness of the 
legislation for which the bill under consideration calls, even if 
it could be shown, which it cannot be, that there is any other 
cause for apprehension on the subject." In concluding his re- 
port Dr. Miller expressed the opinion that "the effort to in- 
troduce into Nebraska the popular excitements which have agi- 
tated and distracted other communities in our neighborhood 
would be a miserable failure. The people understand the mo- 
tives which move men to engage in these political games, and 
they will meet them in the proper way and by the proper means, 
regarding only those things that shall best redound to the po- 
litical peace and permanent prosperity of the entire territory." 
This report was laid over under the rules. 

Mr. Doane made a third report, concurring in the main 
with that of Dr. Miller. "To agree that, because a single in- 
stance may be found," says Mr. Doane, "of a returning emi- 
grant from Utah, who has pitched his tent in sonic remote part 
of the territory, and is cohabiting with two women claiming 
to be his wives, therefore polygamy exists in the territory, 
would be quite as conclusive and sensible as the attempt made 
by the chairman (Taylor) of this committee t<» fasten upon 

our fair territory the stigma of slavery by the very slender 

data upon which his conclusion is based."' Mr. Doane main- 
tained that if slavery did exist the evil must he corrected by 



5A 



162 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

the judicial and not by the legislative ranch of the government. 

On the 7th of December "a bill to abolish and prohibit 
slavery in this territory" was introduced in the house. After 
considerable discussion in both branches of the legislature an 
amended act "to prohibit slavery" was passed, early in January, 
1860. It was vetoed by Governor Black in a long and carefully 
prepared message. He held that it was unconstitutional, and 
that the owners of slaves had a right to hold them until the 
territory framed a state constitution and was admitted to the 
union as a state. On motion of R. W. Furnas the message was 
made the special order for the 11th of January, but on that 
day a motion by Mr. Porter that it be laid on the table was 
carried. The next day a motion to revive the matter was car- 
ried by a vote of six to five. The whole subject, however, was 
on motion of Mr. Furnas indefinitely postponed. Thus it was 
that the council adjourned without final action on the slavery 
question. A similar result was brought about in the house. 

About this time an advertisement of a sheriff's sale ap- 
peared in a Nebraska City paper announcing that by virtue of 
an execution the sheriff would offer at public auction the fol- 
lowing described property, to-wit : "One negro man and one 
negro woman, known as Hercules and Martha." The Ne- 
braska City Press called upon the legislature to settle the mat- 
ter of slavery at once and for all time, and in the fall elections 
the question was made a direct issue. 

The question came up again in the next legislature which 
met December 3, 1860. John M. Thayer introduced into the 
council a bill "to abolish slavery and involuntary servitude in 
the territory," while Mr. Mathias introduced a bill in the house. 
The house bill was passed December 10th by a vote of thirty- 
five yeas to two nays, and on December 26th the council bill 
was passed by a vote of ten yeas to three nays. The bills, upon 
being ratified by the two houses, were presented to Governor 
Rlack for approval, but he vetoed them, his reasons being the 
same as given in his former veto message. The house, how- 
ever, passed the bill over his veto by a vote of thirty-one yeas 
to two nays, on January 1, 1861, and the council followed suit 
by a vote of ten yeas to three nays. Thus was the question of 
slavery finally settled in Nebraska. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 163 

Colonel E. D. Webster, who was then editing The Omaha 
Republican, and who took a prominent part in the politics of 
that day, gave the writer an interesting reminiscence of the 
fight over this question in the legislature of 1859-60, when 
the bill was first vetoed. "When the legislature met," said 
Colonel Webster, "it was discovered that of the thirty-nine 
members of the house the republicans had thirteen and the 
democrats twenty-six, the latter being equally divided between 
the Douglas and Buchanan wings of the party. In the council, 
which held over, the republicans had only two members, and 
the democrats eleven, of whom six were Douglas men and five 
were Buchanan men. The republicans resolved to put the dem- 
ocrats to a test on the question of slavery, and a committee, 
selected by a republican caucus, was appointed to draft a bill 
prohibiting and abolishing slavery in Nebraska. The breach 
between the Douglas and Buchanan democrats had greatly 
widened, and the feeling was very bitter. The governor was 
a Buchanan man, and the secretary, Morton, was a disciple of 
Douglas. Nearly all the southern federal office-holders were 
Buchanan appointees, while the northern office-holders were 
either followers of Douglas or advocates of squatter sover- 
eignty. The Douglas men generally supported the bill to 
abolish and prohibit slavery, and, after a fierce struggle, it 
passed both branches of the legislature and was sent to the 
governor for his signature. How many people are there in 
this state who would think that the last democratic governor 
that the territory of Nebraska ever had would have vetoed this 
on the ground that it was unconstitutional. Yet the governor 
did it. During the debate Strickland, speaker of the house, 
made a very effective speech in favor of the passage of the 
bill. It passed the house by a bare majority, and then went 
to the council, where it was thoronghlj debated by Dundy, <>n 
the republican side. assisted by the Douglas democrats, and 
was opposed by the Buchanan men. Governor Black vetoed it 

iii as able a state paper as 1 have ever seen from any source. 
It was statesmanlike and COUrteOUS. Meeting Hon, Alfred 

I onkling, father of Roscoe Conkling, who was thru residing 
here. I asked him to write a review of Governor Black's mes- 
sage, and, although unn< \. 1 admonished him thai as 1 



164 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

had great respect for Black personally not to be severe or at- 
tach to the veto message any other reasons than those arising 
from a sense of official duty. Conkling cheerfully made the 
review, which was published, and which all republicans and all 
Douglas men felt was a complete and satisfactory refutation 
of the sophistries of the slavery propagandists as presented in 
the governor's message. According to the Buchanan idea 
slavery was still lawful in the territory. During the progress 
of the debate on this bill in the council George W. Doane, 
member from Washington county, and at heart an anti-slavery 
man, but who had more regard for the harmony of the party 
than he had love for freedom, introduced a series of resolu- 
tions as a substitute for the bill. These resolutions recited 
that the legislature was democratic, that harmony was of great 
consequence, that there was no danger of slavery ever being 
firmly established in Nebraska, that the bill was intended by 
the abolitionists as a fire-brand to divide and distract the dem- 
ocratic party, therefore it was inexpedient at this time to give 
any further consideration to the bill, and it should be in- 
definitely postponed. Without criticising this proposition The 
Republican dubbed the author 'George Washington Resolution 
Doane,' which name he bore for a long time, and he always 
enjoyed the joke when reminded of it." 

The bitterness of feeling between the pro-slavery men and 
the republicans and abolitionists in the early period is convin- 
cingly shown by the case of Rev. W. M. Smith, a Methodist 
preacher, who was a radical abolitionist and who through his 
pulpit utterances made himself extremely obnoxious to quite 
a number of prominent and influential southerners and their 
sympathizers. One Sunday, after he had been in Omaha about 
nine months, he delivered a sermon in which he said he "would 
rejoice to see our people wading through rivers of blood and 
climbing over mountains of flesh rather than that the North 
should fail and the freedom of the slaves should be unaccom- 
plished." The next day it was strongly intimated to him that 
if he had any regard for his personal safety it would be ad- 
visable for him to immediately leave the territory. Mr. Smith 
needed no second warning. He departed at once for another 
field where his free speech would be more happily heard. At 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 165 

the close of the war Rev. Smith triumphantly returned and 
resumed preaching in the pulpit which he had been compelled 
to abandon. He never omitted an opportunity to express his 
unbounded joy over the result of the great conflict. Many of 
I those southerners — mostly federal office-holders prior to the 
war — who three years before had invited him to leave, had 
gone back to the sunny south. Those who remained became 
reconciled to the changed conditions. 

Among those who were bitterly opposed to the abolition 
of slavery was J. Sterling Morton, who bore an intense hatred 
for Lincoln. On May 9, 186'3, while the war of the rebellion 
was in fierce and bloody progress, Morton delivered before the 
democratic club of Council Bluffs a speech that was not only 
pro-slavery but pro-secession — in fact treasonable. It was 
strongly in favor of the southern slaveholders and their at- 
tempt to overthrow the government of the United States. Simi- 
lar speeches in favor of the enemy in the recent world's war 
would have resulted in the imprisonment of the speakers. Mor- 
ton, however, was not molested. He began his memorable 
speech — which was published in full in The Nebraska City 
Press — by describing how bewildered a common rustic became 
when he first entered Barnum's museum, and then he added : 

"So an unpracticed speaker, who attempts today the in- 
vestigation of the politics of the present administration and 
endeavors to collect and put upon exhibition some of the po- 
litical monstrosities of abolition, is at once amidst the mag- 
nificence of the imbecility and the grandeur of the knavery 
which has filled that great curiosity shop of corruption 
in Washington, over which Mr. A. Lincoln — inimitable anec- 
doter of Illinois — presides with a mirth and merriment as po- 
tent for Side-splitting as his arms and axe were once for rail- 
splitting." 

The orator then proceeded to show how "the black rcpub- 
licans had contrived to force the South into rebellion and to 
draw from them the first tire; how the abolitionists had 
brought it all about to obtain their own nefarious ends, and 
how the president, yielding at last to pressure, had advised 

emancipation as the wonderful patent abolition panacea for 

a sick nation." Mr Morton continued : 



166 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

"Do we desire to investigate still further into the African 
business? Has it declared a dividend? Go over the battle- 
fields; look down through the green sod into the hastily filled 
graves of good and brave men. These grinning skulls, these 
meatless limbs, these slimy worms that revel in forms once ani- 
mate and strong as yours or mine — forms whose images are 
photographed upon the heart tablets of weeping widows, 
mourning mothers, and dimly shadowed in the souls of the 
fatherless. Is not this its dividend? Its full fruition? Aboli- 
tion has paid fat contractors; has paid the brother-in-law of 
the secretary of the navy (for buying old hulks to sink in 
Charleston harbor) $65,999 in five months — more than has 
been appropriated to all the territories in the last year. Aboli- 
tion has paid Beecher, paid Greeley, paid Phillips, paid Garri- 
son, paid those transcendental and loose-jointed intellects that 
shed a sickly light through solemn-rolling eyes upon the cadav- 
erous bran-bred faces and crazy heads that sometimes sur- 
mount a white cravat and other garbs of solemn mien, and 
impiously call themselves preachers of Christ and Him cruci- 
fied. Such men, such things, it has paid." 

And after some eight columns of similar eloquence he 
thus concluded : 

"As the voice of God called unto Abraham of old, saying 
unto him : 'Abraham, take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, 
whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and 
offer him there for a burnt offering,' so during the fall elections 
in the great states of Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and New York a 
voice — vox populi vox Dei — like the sound of many waters, 
has cried unto our Abraham, saying: 'Take now thy well- 
beloved friend and brother Abolition, and get thee into the 
boundaries of the constitution of thy fathers, and offer him 
for a peace offering.' But in vain ! Abraham of this generation 
is stiff-necked and heedeth not the reprimanding voice of a 
displeased people. He and his party proceed emancipating and 
to emancipate, and if tonight God in His infinite mercy should 
call the weary spirit of every black slave in all this broad land 
to come up higher, to pass from earth and to float triumphant 
up through the stars and the shining worlds to heaven, Lincoln 
and his nigger-crazed counselors would awake tomorrow and 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



167 



weep bitter tears because there would be no more niggers to 
free, to clothe, and to tax us for." 




CHAPTER XX 



OLD-TIME POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS 



OMAHA THE POLITICAL HEADQUARTERS SOME OF THE EARLY 

LEADERS EXCITING INCIDENTS SAMUEL G. DAILY'S SUC- 
CESSFUL CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGNS E. D. WEBSTER^ PO- 
LITICAL STRATEGY ELECTION FRAUDS. 

The political campaigns of the early days of Nebraska 
were of an intensely interesting and exciting nature, and were 
participated in by men who attained to political prominence, 
many of whom were ranked among the most eminent and in- 
fluential citizens. Omaha was, of course, the political head- 
quarters of the territory. 

There was no republican party organization in Nebraska 
prior to the year 1859. A few men, here and there, and some 
scattering members of the legislature, called themselves re- 
publicans. The democrats usually nominated their regular 
candidates, and then two or three other men would run as in- 
dependents. Up to the fall of 1859 the regular democratic can- 
didates, however, had always been elected. At this time 
General Estabrook was nominated for delegate to congress, and 
immediately there appeared half-a-dozen men who wanted to 
run as independent democratic candidates, but none on the re- 
publican ticket. How to organize a republican convention and 
consolidate the various factions into a movement against the 
regular democrats had for some little time 'been the question 
with a few earnest republicans. It was in August. 1859, that a 
few know leading republicans were invited to a conference, 
having a view such an object. Such men as John Taffe, David 
L. Collier of Burt county; A. S. Paddock, John S. Bowen, 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 169 

Elam Clark, E. H. Rogers, of Dodge; S. H. Wattles, Henry T. 
Harke, of Sarpy ; T. M. Marquette, S. H. Elbert, Dan H. 
Wheeler, of Plattsmouth; Sam Maxwell, James Sweet, Judge 
Bradford, of Otoe; T. W. Tipton, Sam Daily, of Nemaha 
:ounty; Elmer S. Dundy, of Richardson county, and others 
were invited. Some came and some didn't. The result was 
line calling of a convention at Bellevue to nominate a republi- 
can candidate for delegate to congress. The wisdom of hold- 
ing a republican convention at that time was questioned by sev- 
eral influential citizens, who subsequently joined the republi- 
can party. The men who met in that conference were like 
a band of brothers. 

On the democratic side at that time were arrayed all the 
federal office-holders in the territory. Among the leading 
democrats were Governor Black, Judge Wakeley, Chief Justice 
Hall, J. Sterling Morton. John A. Parker, William E. Moore. 
Dr. Miller. George B. Lake, G. \V. Doane, A. J. Poppleton, 
A. J. Hanscom, Jonas Seeley, J. M. Woolworth, J. E. Boyd. 
J. F. Kinney, William A. Little, and others of equal standing, 
all of whom were men of character and ability, and exceed- 
ingly bright and active. That campaign brought out on each 
side all the representative men. It was the first earnest con- 
tent in Nebraska. The democrats held their first meeting on 
the steps of the Western Exchange building. The republicans 
advertised their meeting at the same place. Judge Vlfred 1 !onk- 
ling, Samuel (i. Daily, E. I). Webster, and A. S. Paddock were 
announced to speak on this occasion. The United States mar- 
shal, William K. Moore, soon after the handbills were distribu- 
ted, advised the republican leader- to change the place of 
sembling, as "the democrats would not permit abolitionists t<» 
hold a meeting in the streets/' Word was passed around an* »ng 
the republicans, who armed themselves and gathered at the 
appointed place, prepared t<, defend the right of tree speech. 
Judge Conk ling presided and made the first speech, and v 
followed by E. D. Webster, who was rudely interrupted by a 
fellow named Luce, who three times -aid. "That's a lie." Im- 

mediatel) alter the third tune, a young man named X.i-h gave 

I uce a terrible beating, and drove him awa) " ( n, Mr. 

Web ter, that fellow will not interrupt you again/' shouted 



170 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Nash, who came from Springfield, New York, and was raised 
near Webster's old home. When the war of the rebellion broke 
out Nash returned to New York and enlisted in the 116th 
volunteers. He was wounded in the battle of Fair Oaks and 
retired from the army with the rank of major. 

Samuel G. Daily was the nominee of the republican con- 
vention for delegate to congress. The night after the nom- 
ination he went to Plattsmouth, and, much to the surprise 
of his republican friends, made a squatter sovereignty speech. 
This so disgusted Dave Wentworth, a bright young man, that 
he got drunk and resigned from the editorship of The Re- 
publican, which was then being conducted by Mr. Webster. 
Wentworth said there was no use trying to organize a repub- 
lican party in Nebraska, and he accordingly returned to New 
York. Webster, however, proved himself equal to the emer- 
gency. He wrote a stiff" republican speech, such as Daily ought 
to have made, and published it in The Republican, represent- 
ing it as the speech delivered by Daily at Plattsmouth. When 
the paper reached the South Platte country the Douglas demo- 
crats called Daily's attention to it and expressed surprise that 
he should make one speech and the paper report another — 
that the talk that he made for local effect was a squatter 
sovereignty speech, and that the one for foreign circulation was 
directly opposite. This annoyed and puzzled Daily, who came 
to Omaha to investigate the matter. "Who reported my speech 
at Plattsmouth?" he asked. "Nobody reported it," re- 
plied Webster; "I wrote such a speech as you ought to 
have made and which you will have to make if you are going 
to run as a candidate. You made a damned locofoco speech." 

"I can be elected on squatter sovereignty," said Daily. 

"But you must educate the people, and the sooner they 
learn the better it will be for the territory," replied Webster. 

After a long conference Daily invited Webster to go witli 
him to Nebraska City to hear his next effort, but Webster 
could not go. However, Daily made a good republican speech 
in Nebraska City, and from that time he continued to grow 
strong as a campaign speaker. Although he was an illiterate 
farmer he was by no means an ignorant man. His grammar 
and pronunciation were imperfect. lie pronounced "schism" 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 171 

as if it were called "skism,' chair — cheer; scare — skeer, etc., 
and the democrats dubbed him "Skisms" Daily. They con- 
tinued to call him by this nickname until he taught them to 
respect him by his efficiency in debate and his subsequent 
election. They challenged him to join debates with his oppon- 
ent, General Estabrook, an educated man and an eloquent and 
logical talker. Daily's friends hesitated to allow him to ac- 
cept the challenge, but they finally accepted and several de- 
bates were held, Daily always maintaining his position credita- 
bly, notwithstanding the fun that was made of his queer pro- 
nunciation and grammar. Meetings were held all over the terri- 
tory and the contest brought out the strongest men on each 
side. Among those who spoke for Daily were Paddock, Collier, 
Thayer, Bennett, Tipton, Dundy, Hitchcock and Lockwood. 
Those who addressed meetings for Kstabrook were Governor 
Black, Morton, Miller, Doane, Rankin. Poppleton, Lake, Red- 
ick and Strickland. 

The republican^ everywhere nominated a full legislative 
ticket. The democrats did likewise. When the election was 
Over, and after the returns were in. the republicans found that 
Daily had received a majority of from 150 to 175 votes, but 
the democratic newspaper, The Nfebraskian, claimed the elec- 
tion of Estabrook. It did not 'State, however, where the 
discrepancy in the republican figures existed, or where the 
democrats expected majorities. Finally, when the re- 
turning board, consisting of Governor Black, Chief Justice 
I [all and Tinted States District Attorney Bowen, met and the 

returns were opened and counted it was discovered, to the great 

surprise of all republicans, that Buffalo county, in which Fori 
Kearney was located, 150 miles beyond the frontier Grand 
Island being the frontier at that time had a return of 292 
vote \ thorough investigation revealed the fact that the re 
turn w;i> manufactured in Omaha, that no valid election had 

been held in Buffalo COUnty, and that the return had been tiled 

with tin- governor's secretary with this knowledge The cer 
tif icate oi election was given t< • Estabrook, but Dail) contested 
the election and was awarded his seat in congress. 

The dele-ate to congress u.v elected in 1859 for th< 
sion which began in the preceding March, but congress did 



172 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

not meet again until December. The democrats, both wings, 
fearing the election of a republican president, and seeing that 
the vote was close in the territory concluded that if a republican 
should be elected, and all the patronage given to republicans, 
they would have no chance to elect a democratic repre- 
sentative two years later. They therefore passed an act, which 
was approved by the governor, bringing on the election the 
next year. Accordingly, in 1860, the democrats nominated 
Morton, and the republicans renominated Daily. Morgan had 
received from General Craig, of St. Joseph, Missouri, a dis- 
patch stating that the appropriation of $50,000 for the Ne- 
braska capitol had been defeated in Washington by Daily, and 
this dispatch was shown to Colonel Webster, who saw that it 
was intended to be used against Daily and that it would greatly 
injure him if something was not immediately done to counter- 
act it. He accordingly secured a copy and published it the 
next day, and commented about it as follows : That Daily, 
anticipating the election of a republican president and congress 
that year, and the appointment of republican disbursing offi- 
cers, preferred to have the money, when appropriated, pass 
through the hands of honest men, and that the writer (Web- 
ster) would have done the same thing if he had been in con- 
gress. This explanation was satisfactory to Daily's friends 
north of the Platte. When Daily returned he was told by Web- 
ster that he must make the explanation good by securing the 
appropriation, and by rising above local jealousies and se- 
tional feeling, which, as the old-timers will remember, he did 
to everybody's satisfaction. 

About this time, in April or May, 1860, the republican 
national convention had been called to be held on the 2d of 
June in Chicago, and it was questionable whether delegates 
from the territories would be permitted to take seats and par- 
ticipate in the deliberations. It was resolved, however, to send 
six delegates to represent the republicans of Nebraska. The 
territorial committee was called together and the delegates 
were selected by that body without holding a convention, the 
territory being thinly settled and there being no railroads or 
other convenient means of transportation. The convention was 
dispensed with to save expense. The delegates chosen were 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 173 

John Taffe, A. S. Paddock, P. W. Hitchcock, S. H. Elbert, 
William H. Taylor and E. D. Webster. All the delegates, ex- 
cept Taylor, who substituted O. H. Irish, attended the national 
convention. Webster was chairman of the delegation and an- 
nounced the vote. Paddock, Irish and Webster voted for Sew- 
ard for president, Taffe and Hitchcock voted for Lincoln, and 
Elbert voted for Chase. Irish was appointed by the conven- 
tion as the Nebraska member of the national committee. 
He afterwards became superintendent of engraving and print- 
ing in the treasury department. After Nebraska was admitted 
to the Union Hitchcock and Paddock were chosen United 
States senators. Taffe was elected congressman and served 
three terms. Elbert later became chief justice of Colorado. 

When the territorial conventions met to nominate candi- 
dates for delegate to congress in 1860, Daily, as already stated, 
was chosen by the republicans, and the democrats selected Mor- 
ton, who had a well established reputation as a trenchant, vigor- 
ous wit, and an elegant and ready debater. The democratic 
committee immediately issued a challenge to Daily to meet 
Morton on the Stump, and much to their surprise the challenge 
u;h accepted. They began their joint discussions south of the 
Platte. When they arrived in Omaha Webster inquired of 
Daily how he was getting along. "Pretty well," replied Daily, 
"but Morton ridicules me, and this Is rather annoying. lie 
quotes my ungrammatical expressions and mispronunciations, 
and in that way gets the laugh on me." "Daily, why don't \«»u 
turn the tables on him?" asked Webster. "Turn the tables/' 

said he. "how?" "Morton's opportunities and yours have been 
very different/' said Webster; "his father was a wealthy man. 
and lived in a large city, where churches and school houses 

re numerous. He had the greatest advantages that a young 
man could have, and which wealth could give t<» him. lie 
graduated from college, one of the highest universities in the 
country. He came west with a small fortune. Your lather 
settled with his wife and family of small children in the heavy 

timber of Indiana, and was an exceedingly poor man. lie 

had to fell the timber, cut it into logs, burn the logs into ashes, 
pile the a lies and make black i >r pearl ash, and you have mam 
a time taken the solitary mule or horse he possessed and gone 



174 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



a long distance to the country store to market it, and buy tea 
for your mother. Your father lived in a cabin, so remote 
from civilization that he had to use the ground for a floor. He 
had no plow or other farming implements. When he had 
cleared a patch of land, where the log heaps had burned, he 
cut holes in the ground with his axe, dropped corn into those 
holes and covered it, and pressed the ground with his feet. 
There was not a school house or church within reach, but you 
had a Christian father and mother, who gave you such in- 
struction, rude though it was, as they had received. They 
taught you from the Holy Bible and other religious books such 
principles as made you, when you reached manhood's estate, 
to love freedom and hate oppression. Such principles have 
compelled you to be a republican instead of a democrat. Your 
competitor's children are blessed, as their father was, with 
wealth — blessed as the children of your fellow-citizens are not, 
who have taken up claims on these prairies and who are turn- 
ing over the sod, and are building school houses and churches. 
His boys in a few years will be making fun of your boys' pro- 
nunciation, as he does now of yours. Now, Daily, that is the 
kind of a speech to make to get even with him — to turn the 
tables on him." "I'll do it," said Daily, who had listened with 
intense interest to Webster's instructions. 

Colonel Webster went to Calhoun 
with Daily the next night. In the debate 
Morton indulged in his usual sarcastic criti- 
cisms of Daily, but when Daily replied, re- 
membering Webster's instructions, he com- 
pletely turned the tables on him. "His 
effort was one of the most effective 
speeches I ever heard," Webster assured 
the writer, "because it was true. While tell- 
ing about his family the tears rolled down 
Daily's cheeks. He wiped his eyes with 
his handkerchief, and the sympathetic au- 
dience, all in tears, followed suit. It was a 
touching sight. That was the end of demo- 
cratic fun at Daily's expense. Morton 
never afterwards ridiculed Daily. He 




J. Sterling' Morton, 
necretary and once 
acting-governor of 
Ncliniskn territory, 
author of Arbor 
day, and secreta- 
ry of agriculture 
in I'reMident Cleve- 
land's cabinet. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 175 

said to me, after the meeting: 'Damn you, Webster, I am in- 
debted to you for this. That was not Sam Daily.' We never 
let Estabrook or Morton have a joint debate with Daily in 
Omaha. During Daily's two campaigns we steered clear of 
this city." 

The campaign between Daily and Morton was one of the 
most vigorous that ever occurred in Nebraska. Daily was well 
equipped, owing to his experience in his previous campaign 
with Estabrook. lie was again elected, and the republicans also 
carried a majority of both houses of the legislature. In the 
council instead of two members the republicans now had seven. 
They were Taffe, Thayer, Marquette, Elbert, Taylor, Tipton, 
and Dundy, while the democrats were Doane, Little, Bennett, 
and three others whose names we do not remember. When 
the returns came in The Xebraskian claimed the election of 
Morton by a small majority, but as in the preceding campaign 
the paper failed to show wherein the republican figures, which 
gave Daily the election, were erroneous. A considerable time 
intervened between the election in October and the meeting of 
the returning board, The Xebraskian all the while claiming the 
election of Morton, although The Republican printed complete 
returns from every known voting precinct in the territory, 
which gave Daily a fair majority. Nevertheless, The \e- 
braskian persisted in its claim, and when called upon by The 
Republican to state wherein its figures were erroneous it would 
content itself by saying, "Wait until the returns are in and the 
correction is made of those already in." Meantime Dr. C. A. 
Henry, a democrat, and perfectly cognizant of all the facts 
connected with the manufacture of the fraudulent and for: 
returns at Fori Kearney the previous year, furnished all the 
details to the editor of The Republican without giving names. 

The history of that fraud was published with such nunntene-- 
t0 render the article offensive 1" John Mc( "< uuhc. private 

t( retary of the governor, and to point to him as one who had 
more knowledge of the transaction than was consistent with 
< fficial integrity, and to intimate that perhaps the democrats 
expected to perpetrate a similar fraud at tins tune. 

Editor Webster was frequently warned to be on his guard 
Met "inhe proposed to cowhide him on sight His threats 



176 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

became so numerous that finally Webster requested Mr. 
Wattles, of Sarpy county, who was in his office at the time, 
to accompany him on the street to meet McConihe. They 
had not gone far before they met him with Tom Riley, the 
city marshal. Both parties were armed. They exchanged 
salutations and passed on. "I don't think McConihe will as- 
sault you," said Wattles to Webster. The two men then en- 
tered Lacy & McCormick's store and sat down, Webster hav- 
ing his back to the door. While they were engaged in conver- 
sation McConihe came in, and to the surprise of everybody 
dealt Webster a powerful blow on the back of the head, knock- 
ing him down. Webster quickly picked himself up and a tussle 
ensued. McConihe was getting the best of Webster, when 
finally the latter picked up three bars of lead with which he 
sent McConihe sprawling upon the floor. Webster instantly 
mounted his opponent as a cowboy mounts his broncho and 
belabored him until he shouted : "Take him off!" The bystand- 
ers pulled Webster away. Both men then retired to the back 
room and washed in the same basin. "You have treated me 
very badly," said McConihe. "I have not treated you as badly 
as you deserve," replied Webster, "you struck me in the back 
of the head like an assassin. Luckily for you that I forgot I 
had this (showing a revolver), for I would have killed you." 
"That is not what I referred to," said McConihe, "it is the 
article in the newspaper." "You know that that article is true; 
if you deny it I'll prove it, and publish the evidence," replied 
Webster. Both returned to the main room of the store, where 
a large crowd had gathered. Among those present was United 
States Marshal Moore, who indulged in severe criticisms of 
the newspapers, and said that if any one of them attacked him 
as they had others he would slice off the ears of the editors 
and cut out their tongues. Webster, flushed with victory over 
a small man, inquired if the United States marshal was seeking 
a personal controversy with him, and if it was not time enough 
for him to make such threats when he was assaulted. Webster 
informed him that such threats would not prevent him, if the 
occasion required, from making such criticisms as were just. 
Morton now appeared upon the scene, and Webster 
said to him : "I am indebted to you for this assault. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 177 

I ought to whip you. I think I can whip the whole 
democratic party for this." Morton laughed the matter 
off, treating it as a joke, and making facetious remarks, as was 
his custom. He soon went away, and was followed by Moore. 
Webster then repeated what had been said by Jonas Seeley : 
"Moore is only brave when farthest from danger. When he 
first came here he exhibited an arm full of scars, which he said 
he received in a bowie-knife duel, but the fact is that he got 
them while running a cotton-gin." At the hotel where thev 
were both staying Moore said to Morton : "Why didn't you 
whip Webster?" "You ought to whip him yourself if anybody 
ought to," replied Morton; "he has been making fun of you, 
as I am told, about those scars on your arm, which he says you 
got in a cotton-gin instead of in a duel." "Did he say that?" 
"Yes." "I'll make him take it back or I'll cut his ears off," said 
the blood-thirsty Moore. James G. Chapman heard this con- 
versation and at once went to Webster, who was still in the 
store, and cautioned him. Seeley and Hanscom were both 
there. The latter said to Webster : "You better get out on the 
sidewalk and stand up for I guess he means business." The 
whole party accordingly went out on the walk, and presently 
Morton and Moore were seen coming through the mud, regard- 
less of sidewalks. Morton looked as though he anticipated 
some fun; Moore appeared serious, and with a knife was 
whittling a stick. "I understand you have been ridiculing me, 
and denouncing me as a coward," said Moore, as he advanced 
towards Webster. Quick as a flash Webster covered him with 
his revolver, and replied: "You have talked a great deal too 
much about slicing people's ears off, and cutting their tongues 
out, to come at me with a drawn knife and ask explanations 
Stop where you are, or I'll kill you." Moore stopped. "Put 
up your knife," said Webster. "Put up your pistol," replied 
Moore. "I'll put up my pistol, but you must not pull your 
knife. If you do PI kill you," said Webster. The weapons 
were withdrawn from sight, and then Moore said: "I under- 
stand that you have been ridiculing me, denouncing me as a 
coward, and saying that I exhibited scars on my arm, repre- 
senting that I got them in a knife duel, but that I really got 

them in a cotton gm. Did yon say that?" "1 repeated to the 



178 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

gentlemen here," replied Webster, "a conversation between 
you and me, and said that I did not think you were very anxi- 
ous for a personal controversy. Jonas Seeley, to whom you 
had exhibited those scars, and represented that you got them 
in a knife duel, told me that you got them in a cotton-gin." 
The words had hardly left Webster's mouth before Seeley 
sprang forward, with elevated hand, and said to Moore : "Yes, 
I told Webster that, and, you coward, you know that it is true !" 
That settled the difficulty, as Moore had nothing more to say. 
It also ended democratic bull-dozing in Nebraska. Hanscom 
and his brother-in-law, Seeley, were both Douglas democrats. 
Seeley died in California. Within a week after the above epi- 
sode Moore left Omaha and joined the rebel forces. He be- 
came a commissary in the confederate army. 

Finally, when the returning board met, to the amazement 
of the republicans it had returns from L'eau-qui-court county 
of 292 votes, all cast for Morton for congress, and for Bates 
for the council against Taffe. By counting these 292 votes 
Morton would have had a majority. By throwing them out 
Daily would have had a majority. Everybody knew it was a 
fraud. L'eau-qui-court county was so remote, however, that 
h was a difficult matter to immediately ascertain the facts and 
secure proof. The return was counted and the certificate of 
election was given to Morton. The republicans, however, sent 
messengers to L'eau-qui-court county to obtain evidence of 
fraud. They induced some of the parties, who were engaged in 
the transaction, to appear before George H. Armstrong, who 
was then probate judge of Douglas county, and testify. Arm- 
trong was then a democrat, but later became a" republican. 
Complete evidence was secured. It was certified to by E. B. 
Chandler, clerk of the United States courts, and presented to 
Governor Black, who revoked Morton's certificate and gave 
another to Daily. The evidence implicated Captain J. B. Todd, 
the sutler at Fort Randall. He was a cousin of Mrs. Lincoln, 
whose husband was then a candidate upon the republican ticket 
for the presidency. This evidence showed that Captain Todd, 
with three or four employes of his store, crossed the Mis- 
souri river, and opening a pretended voting place voted upon 
fictitious names, which they recorded, until they had cast 292 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



179 



votes. The return was made up and sent to Governor Black's 
private secretary, and upon this return, as already stated, the 
board issued a certificate to Morton. The issuance of the 
second certificate by Governor Black was not known to Mor- 
ton until the meeting of congress, when to his surprise the clerk, 
in reading the roll, called the name of Daily as the delegate 
from Nebraska. This was a staggering surprise to Morton 
who was thus placed in the attitude of a contestant. Congress 
awarded the seat to Daily, whose case was handled by Judge 
Conkling. 




CHAPTER XXI 



GOLD DISCOVERY IN COLORADO 



OMAHA BOOMS AN IMPORTANT OUTFITTING POINT FREIGHT- 
ING ACROSS THE PLAINS DEVELOPS INTO A BIG AND PROFIT- 
ABLE BUSINESS ELDER SHINN AND THE BULLWHACKERS 

A TYPICAL FRONTIER PREACHER BENJAMIN SMITHES TRIP 

TO THE COLORADO GOLD FIELD. 

Freighting across the plains in frontier days was a profit- 
able enterprise but a perilous undertaking owing to the frequent 
attacks from Indians. The business, however, grew to enor- 
mous proportions until the coming of the railroads. During 
1865 there were employed in this traffic 8,960 wagons, 14,260 
mules, 59,440 cattle and 11,220 men to transport westward 
54,000 tons of freight from the Missouri river outfitting points 
— Atchinson, Kansas City, Leavenworth, St. Joe, Plattsmouth 
and Omaha. 

A train consisted of from twenty-two to twenty-six teams, 
five yokes of cattle to a team, and two wagons, one carrying 
4,000 pounds, and the other — the trailer — was loaded with 
3,000 pounds. There were also two-horse cook wagons. The 
men usually slept under the wagons or in tents and under 
wagon covers. The distance traveled was about eighteen miles 
a day. Any number of teams and wagons less than a full train 
was called an outfit. The freight rate to points where two trips 
could be made in the open season generally was $1 per 100 
pounds for each hundred miles. Winter rates to Denver were 
from 10 to 12 cents per pound. 

Ox teams and mule teams, with accompanying bull- 
whackers and mule drivers, were much in evidence in Omaha. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 181 

It was here that the Mormons, and a large number of gold 
seekers, adventurers and fortune hunters of every description, 
outfitted for their various destinations — Colorado, Utah, Ne- 
vada, Montana, California and Oregon. Omaha merchants 
did a thriving trade and reaped huge profits. Some of them 
were profiteers in every sense of the word. The streets were 
thronged with motley and cosmopolitan crowds. The town was 
"wild and woolly" and "wide open." 

The discovery of gold in Colorado proved a big boost for 
Omaha as an outfitting point, but at the same time it enticed 
many men from the town who would in all probability have 
become permanent residents had it not been for this distant 
and magnetic allurement. 

It was on January 5, 1859, that quite a stir was created 
at the Herndon house by the arrival of two men — Al Stein- 
berger and Colonel Wynkoop — who brought with them the first 
gold from the placers of Cherry Creek, where Denver soon 
afterwards sprang into existence. The scale gold was con- 
tained in six goose quills. This proof of gold in Colorado 
started a stampede early in the spring. Then all along the line 
across the plains appeared this memorable slogan on the can- 
vas wagon-covers: "Pike's Teak or Bust!" A few days before 
the arrival of Steinberger and Wynkoop in Omaha A. G. 
Barnes reached Plattsmouth from a point three miles above the 
mouth of Cherry Creek, having in his possession a mountain 
eagle's quill containing a small quantity of gold which he had 
panned on the banks of the Platte river. He was the first man to 
bring the news of the Colorado gold discovery to the Missouri 
river — December 28, 1858 — and it quickly spread far and wide. 

Tn 1X57 Francis Smith of New York, having heard a great 
deal about the wonderful prospects of the young town of Oma- 
ha, came Here oil an inspection tour. This was a few months 
before the disastrous financial panic of that year. The outlook 
appeared good to him, and he accordingly, in the spring of 
1858, opened a bank in a one-story frame building on the north 

side of Famam street, a little west of Twelfth. The panic- had 

caused a fearful havoc, and money commanded 5 per cent 

interest per month. It was at this rate that the Smith bank 

loaned money in sums of $25 to $150, taking as security all 



182 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

kinds of personal property, such as watches, jewelry, diamonds, 
silverware, etc. 

A competitor soon appeared in the field. It was Augustus 
Kountze, who had come down the Missouri river from Dakota 
City, where he had been engaged in banking, but had been 
compelled to close owing to the panic. He redeemed the bank's 
entire circulation at par, a rare thing in those days of panic 
and wild cat banks, and it redounded greatly to his credit. Five 
per cent a month in Omaha looked pretty fat, and he imme- 
diately started a bank in a small frame building alongside that 
of Smith. 

Early in the spring of 1859 Francis Smith, Augustus 
Kountze and others "got together'' and decided to send a re- 
liable scout to investigate the Colorado gold find, about 
which everybody was talking. They wanted positive proof 
that the discovery had a solid foundation. Their scout returned 
from his expedition at the end of six weeks, and, calling on 
Francis Smith, said : "Smith, that gold discovery is O. K. ; 
I have brought some of the stuff with me." "Come with me to 
my office and show me and my friends," said Smith. At the 
bank office this man displayed forty small bags containing gold 
dust valued at $10,000. This dust had been given by miners 
into his care to be sent from Omaha to their relatives in the 
east. The custodian of this gold was William N. Byers, who 
soon after returned to Colorado with a complete printing out- 
fit and began the publication of the Rocky Mountain News in 
Denver. His partner in the enterprise was Thomas Gibson of 
Omaha, who returned to this city in 1864. Byers met with 
success and had several adventures of a more or less thrilling 
character. He was a lawyer by profession and had started to 
practice law in Omaha, and had taken quite a prominent part in 
the affairs of the town. 

The confirmation of the gold discovery caused an exodus 
for Colorado. At the same time the passage of the stream of 
transients from all parts of the country was simply enormous 
and the resultant trade in Omaha was immense and richly 
rewarded the men who were not drawn away by the lure of 
the yellow metal. While the rush was on Omaha itself proved 
to be a veritable gold mine. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 183 

The demand for supplies for parties bound for Pike's 
Peak early in 1859 was so great that the complete stock of 
groceries, whisky, shot, powder, pick*, shovels, etc., which 
came by steamer from St. Louis for the opening of the first 
wholesale grocery house in Omaha was sold on the ground in 
front of the establishment, the proprietors of which were Jesse 
H. Lacey and John McCormick, under the firm name of Lacey 
& McCormick, the name being changed soon afterwards to 
John McCormick & Co., two brothers of Mr. McCormick hav- 
ing been taken into the company. Lacey and McCormick were 
brothers-in-law. Prior to entering into the wholesale grocery 
business Mr. McCormick, who came to Omaha in 1856, was en- 
gaged in banking and real estate. The Mc( "ormick & Co. build- 
ing — a two-story brick — is still standing at 1306 Farnam 
street. It was for many years occupied by the famous Ed 
Maurer restaurant, which went into dry dock May 1, 1916, and 
a few months later the drouth — caused by prohibition — put 
it entirely out of commission. Maurer's restaurant without 
real beer was too much like a pink tea to suit the customers, and 
without liquor refreshments the business became unprofitable. 
To the we>t of McCormick & ('«>. was the store of M. Tootle 
& Co., wholesale dry goods, boots and shoes, and on the east 
was the wholesale liquor dispensary of J. C. Mackoy & Co. 
These buildings are still there. Mackoy had the honor of es- 
tablishing a small distillery in 1866, which in 1869 was seized 
by the government for the non-payment of the revenue tax 
and was sold. Peter E. Her became one of the purchasers and 

developed it into the Willow Springs distillery. 

On the corner of Farnam and Thirteenth streets, adjoin- 
ing Mackoy c\ ( o., was a one-story frame building owned by 

Charles Beindorf, who operated a bakery therein. This was 

soon replaced with a two-storj brick, nov occupied by Tope's 
pharmacy. This structure was used for many years for bank- 
ing purposes. The first bank that made its home there was 
that of J. \. Ware & ('■>., beginning in 1865, and continuing 
for five or six years. Then came the State Bank of Nebraska, 
which later became the Merchants National, and in 1888 moved 
to its present location, where in the earl) da} ( lays 

conducted ;i r) store 



184 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

'The Peak" had become a substantial reality, and with 
the Mormon, California and Oregon emigration, which out- 
fitted here, the military posts, the Omaha and Pawnee Indians, 
and ranches starting up along the Platte, made Omaha a boom- 
ing town. For eight months in the year the streets presented 
a busy and interesting sight. 

Among the leading merchants of those days who did an 
enormous trade were James G. Megeath & Co., M. Tootle & 
Co., J. C. Mackoy, O. P. Hurford and Brother, Milton Rogers, 
John McCormick & Co., J. Ford, H. W. Tuttle, Vincent Burk- 
ley, Pundt & Koenig, M. Hellman & Co., and Kennard Brothers. 

Following the Colorado gold discovery came the big gold 
find in Alder Gulch, Virginia City, Montana, in June, 1863, 
which proved a tremendous boost for the freighters. 

Edward Creighton, who had made a fortune out of the 
construction of the Pacific telegraph line, had invested a large 
sum in the freighting business from Omaha to Denver and 
Salt Lake, and now outfitted several large wagon trains with 
merchandise for Virginia City. The first of these Montana 
trains was composed of thirty teams, in charge of James 
Creighton, a cousin, who in thirty days of sales cleaned up a 
profit of $33,000. The next year he took a train of forty mule 
teams to Virginia City, where John A. Creighton, brother of 
Edward, had remained as salesman and had established a stor«\ 
This trip netted $52,000. Other Creighton trains brought large 
profits. John A. Creighton remained in Virginia City two 
years and was one of the most prominent men during the reign 
of the vigilantes, who hanged nearly fifty highwaymen, mur- 
derers, and other undesirables and expelled many of the 
suspected class. Senator Millard was a banker in Virginia 
City during a portion of that perilous period. 

The First Methodist church, which was on the west side 
of Thirteenth street, between Farnam and Douglas, bordered 
on the alley in the rear of Mackoy & Co. and McCormick & 
Co., these firms using the alley and a vacant lot for the loading 
of the trains of their customers. Sunday was the day on which 
everybody, except the Mormons, wanted to load up, and it was 
then that the services in the little church were seriously in- 
terrupted. Ranchmen, freighters, traders, like Jack Morrow, 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 185 

Dan Penniston, Tom Keeler, who later was killed in a duel 
with Dan Parmelee, and other plainsmen, who came to town 
with their gold dust and nuggets, soldier checks and furs, 
would spend two or three days in "resting up" in the popular 
bar rooms, and during this period their was no rest for the 
people. After having thoroughly exhausted themselves with 
their "rest" they would attend strictly to business and then 
there was a "rush, hustle and bustle" to get their trains in 
order, and they generally did this on the day of rest. 

There was a most inharmonious combination of unmusical 
noises — the cracking and slashing of gads and whips, the pull- 
ing and backing of the wagons and carts, the shouts and oaths 
of the bull- whackers and mule-drivers. Frequently it was a 
lively contest between the bull- whackers and mule-drivers, out- 
side of the little church, and Elder Shinn, on the inside, as to 
who could shout the loudest. Old-timers claim that Brother 
Shinn generally won out. He was an eccentric character and a 
man of nerve, and knew the element that he had to contend 
with. On one occasion he paused in his discourse, and leaving 
his pulpit went outside and spoke to one of the leader- of the 
racket in a pleasant tone but in a very decided manner. The 
effect of his talk was immediate and happily satisfactory. One 
of the innocent bystanding bull-whackers spoke up and said: 
"Here, boys, this won't do; old Shinn is a darned good old 
BCOUt and runs a bully good ferry, and we musn't bother him 
any more." The elder returned to his pulpit and finished his 
sermon without further interruption. The plainsman who had 
quieted the disturbance spread himself at full length under his 
'in. and quietly hummed the following: 

"I'm a bull-whacker, far from home, 

If you don't like it just leave me alone; 

Eat my grub when hungry, drink when dry; 
Whack, punch, Swear and then lie down and die." 

In the afternoon of that memorable Sunday Elder Shinn 
preached under the spreading limbs of the "Big Elm Tree-*' 
near the Military bridge. Me had advertised the meeting by 

the distribution of handbills in the morning, and as a result a 

congregation of nearly kX) pilgrims and bull-whackers halted 

there and attentively listened to his exhortation. 



186 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Elder Shinn was a typical frontier preacher. He was a 
native of Ohio, and in his early years followed the trade of a 
tailor in various localities of the west, in which he was always 
a pioneer. While in the vicinity of the falls of the Kanawha 
river, in Kentucky, he called to see a sick pioneer to whom he 
recommended some common sense remedy. The man soon re- 
covered and Shinn's reputation as a healer spread throughout 
the surrounding country, and for a year after he w r as frequent- 
ly summoned to treat the sick. He virtually became a doctor 
without an education in that profession. Going to Springfield, 
Ohio, he married and continued to practice medicine, and, ob- 
taining a license to exhort, he preached for eight years. 

After spreading the gospel in various places in Iowa he 
located in Council Bluffs in 1851 and built the first Methodist 
church in that town, bearing nearly the whole cost himself — 
about $1,000. He also distributed $1,000 worth of Sunday 
school books and other literature for all of which he paid out 
of his own purse. 

Moses F. Shinn was one of the very early pioneers of 
Omaha. In 1856 he erected the little Methodist church in 
Omaha referred to above. It was dedicated in December of 
that year, Elder Shinn officiating. Some years later this 
church property was sold and in its place was built a two-story 
brick structure, which was known as Methodist Church block. 
In the '70s the ground floor was occupied by Byron Clark as 
a billiard saloon with a poker room attachment, and a part of 
the second story was used as a faro bank. In 1883 the Omaha 
National bank bought the property and erected thereon a six- 
story bank and office building, now known as the Bromley. 

Elder Shinn's name will remain on the map of Omaha as 
long as titles are traced back to Shinn's additions in the north- 
west part of the city. In the early days his rope ferry across 
the Platte river returned him a handsome income. This ferry 
was located about five miles west of Schuyler, near the once 
famous ranch of Joseph Russell, an eccentric old Englishman, 
noted for his hospitality and good citizenship. Frequently he 
entertained more than 100 emigrants over night. Elder Shinn, 
who was a thrifty man, never failed to advertise his ferry at 
his meetings under the "Big Elms," emphatically asserting that 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 187 

it was far superior to the rival ferry at Columbus. 

The late Francis Smith, while carrying on his bank in 
Omaha in 1859, wrote to his brother, Benjamin, who was in 
Europe suffering from bronchial trouble, that the climate of 
Nebraska or Colorado would no doubt prove beneficial to him, 
and advised him to come here. Brother Ben acted upon the 
suggestion, and arrived in Omaha in January, 1860, and in 
February started for Colorado with an outfit of five wagons 
loaded with miner's supplies. He had a force of seven men. 
Among the supplies were several bags of coarse sugar, a large 
number of small circular mirrors with tin cases, and an equal 
number of wooden combs that closed up like a jackknife. His 
men were anxious to know what he intended to do with the 
mirrors and combs. Mr. Smith replied that they would learn 
later on. 

Several days after leaving Omaha the train camped near 
a band of Pawnee Indians and Mr. Smith took a lot of sugar, 
some mirrors and comb-, and fearlessly going over to the camp 
he fed the sugar to the kid Indians with a spoon and presented 
the mirrors to the maidens and the combs to the matrons of 
the tribe. This was a peace offering, and it was a winner all 
along the trail to Colorado. Mr. Smith had no trouble what- 
ever with the [ndians. These mirrors and combs were a great 
curiosity to the Indians and were highly treasured. They had 
never seen any before this trip of Mr. Smith. 

This recalls an incident related in the "Experiences of 
Ralph Ringwood," a charming true story by Washington Irv- 
ing. RingWOod, on his way from Florida to Kentucky in the 
early days, attended a party at a hunter's cabin and presented a 
young woman with a small locket mirror which she wore as a 

breast ornament and excited the jealously of all the < >ther \v< mi- 
en at this social function. It was the first looking-glass in that 
part "l' Kentucky, where the people used a bucket of clear 
water for a mirror and sand and clay for soap. 

Reaching O'Fallon's Bluffs, Mr. Smith's train camped on 

an elevated plateau, and he observed in the distance a large 

number "i buffaloes and two mounted Indians pursuing a lone 
buffalo which they had "cut out" from the herd. The} rode 
side-by-side some little distance apart and guided their 



188 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

ponies with their knees. The ponies were without bridles and 
saddles, being specially trained for buffalo hunting. As the 
two Indians came up with the buffalo they shot a volley of ar- 
rows at him from each side, and in a few minutes the animal 
fell and died. So expert were these buffalo hunters that they 
shot their arrows between the ribs of the victim, sending them 
almost clear through the body. Not an arrow had touched a 
rib. This fact was learned by Mr. Smith, who made a thorough 
investigation. The Indian skill with the bow and arrow was a 
revelation to him, as was the method of hunting. When the 
buffalo had fallen a number of squaws soon came up and 
skinned the carcass, which they cut up and carried into camp. 

At the ranch of an Indian trader — a Frenchman named 
Beauvais, who had an Indian family — Mr. Smith's outfit 
camped one night and met a number of chief Indians who had 
assembled in the trading store. Beauvais introduced Mr. Smith 
to them and, taking a long clay pipe, filled with tobacco, handed 
it to the head of the party, who drew a whiff and passed it to 
Smith . The pipe of peace — for such it was — was then passed 
around the entire circle and this was kept up during a two 
hours social session. Beauvais then ordered them to "get out," 
and they got, after being instructed by Beauvais not to in any 
way interfere with Mr. Smith's outfit. Mr. Smith, upon ar- 
riving at Cherry Creek, (Denver), disposed of his merchan- 
dise at an immense profit, and then proceeded to inhale the 
invigorating mountain air, which relieved him from his bron- 
chial ailment. 

Mr. Smith and his brother Francis invested largely in 
Omaha property from time to time, and improved it with sub- 
stanial business buildings as occasion demanded. These struc- 
tures are ample evidence of the faith that the Smith brothers 
always had in Omaha. The late Francis Smith played an im- 
portant part in securing the location of the Union Pacific 
bridge at Omaha. But that is another story told elsewhere in 
this history. 



CHAPTER XXII 



A MAN OF MYSTERY 



THE STRANGE STORY OF STEPHEN DECATUR, A DOUGLAS COUNTY 

PIONEER LONG LOST BROTHER OF DEACON BROSS, EDITOR OF 

THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE. 

In the very early days of Nebraska "a man of mystery" 
became quite prominent in the affairs of Douglas courity and 
vicinity. This man was in the service of Colonel Peter A. Sar- 
py, the American Fur company's Indian trader at Bellevue. 
which was then an important frontier station. In 1841 the 
"man of mystery" appeared among the Omaha Indians and 
made his home with them, lie dressed in buckskin, follow- 
ing the custom of the early frontiersmen, and always wore 
moccasins. He had a long flowing brown beard, and his hair 
of the same color reached to his shoulders. He had deep blue 
eyes, bushy eyebrows, and a high forehead. He presented a 
strikingly picturesque appearance. This strange man called 
himself Stephen Decatur, and acted as a go-between among the 
Indians for Colonel Sarpy, to whom he proved himself a valu- 
able assistant in dealing with the red men for their furs. He 

could speak the Omaha. Ponca, Pottawattamie and Sioux 

langnai 

Decatur was a highly educated man. but lie never revealed 
to any person whence lie came nor where- lie received his sch« »<>!- 

ingi except perhaps to Colonel Sarpy, who himself had been 
given a good education in a Catholic academy in St Louis. 
Colonel Sarpy placed the greatest confidence in Decatur, 

intrusting him With many important business matters, and this 

confident <• was never betrayed Whenever Decatur chanced to 



190 Till-. STORY OF omaiia 

come in contact with a man of education he took great pleasure 
in cultivating his acquaintance and indirectly uncovering the 
fact that he himself was a person of superior attainments. 

At the funeral of Logan Fontenelle, chief of the Omahas, 
who had been killed in a fight with a band of Sioux, Decatur 
read the burial service of the Episcopal church, and was inter- 
rupted by Mrs. Sloan, who said in a loud voice: 

''Stephen Decatur, a man of your character ought to be 
ashamed of yourself to make a mockery of the Christian re- 
ligion by reading the solemn service of the church." 

Mrs. Sloan was a temperance woman and took exceptions 
to Decatur on account of his drinking habit and other dissipa- 
tions which she considered as unfitting him for the perform- 
ance of ministerial duties. Decatur, however, finished the 
burial ceremony. 

When Bellevue w r as organized as a town in February, 
1854, Colonel Sarpy, the chief promoter, named Decatur as 
one of the eleven incorporators. The next year Colonel Sarpy 
established a trading post up the Missouri river and gave it 
the name of Decatur and put him in charge of the store. The 
town of Decatur was organized in the fall of the same year by 
a company composed of Sarpy, Decatur, B. R. Folsom, T. J. 
Hinman and others. Folsom, by the way, was an uncle of 
FYances F'olsom, who became the wife of President Cleveland 
and inherited a fair share of the Folsom property, a part of 
which was located in Omaha at the nortlnvest corner of Six- 
teenth and Dodge streets, where once stood the Planters house, 
the site of which is now occupied by the south half of the post 
office. 

The town of Decatur w r as long the residence of Rev. Wil- 
liam Hamilton, who in 1837 began his missionary labors among 
the Indians of Kansas and Nebraska. Henry Fontenelle, a 
brother of Logan, also made his home on a farm of 160 acres 
just outside of the town. He was for many years the govern- 
ment interpreter, and for two years was the government far- 
mer on the Omaha reservation. He was appointed chief of 
the tribe, but soon resigned the position. 

During the earlier California emigration Decatur oper- 
ated a ferry across the Loup Fork for Colonel Sarpy, and lived 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 191 

here for a short time. He then returned to Bellevue where 
e was a partner in the townsite with Colonel Sarpy. He also 
jwned an interest in the town-sites of Decatur and Tekamah. 
n 1856 Decatur married the widow of Mr. Thomson, who 
ad been the editor of The Council Bluffs Bugle. Mrs. Thomp- 
son came from an excellent family in Michigan and was an 
educated and refined woman, and was the mother of three chil- 
dren. In 1857 Decatur moved with his family to the town of 
Decatur. At this time he was the owner of quite a large num- 
ber of cattle, horses, wagons, and other personal property, and 
evidently was in comfortable circumstances. His claim, se- 
lected the year previous, when the village was platted, was 
called Decatur'- Spring '-wing t<, a spring of pure water within 
it- boundarie 

In this vicinity Decatur became very prominent as he was 
frequently called upon to settle disputes between the Indians 
and the whites. As a peace maker he was very successful as 
the Indians placed the most implicit confidence in him. He 
conducted himself with great dignity in these arbitrations and 
his decisions were generally regarded as just, and therefore 
proved satisfactory to all concerned. The original proprietors 
f the town sold a half interest to a New Y<»rk syndicate or 

company which offered a lot to any one who would erect a 
house on the property. One man built a mere shack and de- 
manded a deed which was refused. Decatur upon learning of 
tin- shabby trick appeared on the scene and himself tore down 
the rickety shanty. 

In the summer of 1858 a tragedy occurred in the town 
of I tecatur which caused the most intense excitement Tecumseh 
Fontenelle brother of Henry and 1 m was fatally stabbed 
by Louis Neal, a half-blood Indian, who bad married Susan 
Fontenelle, their sister, a handsome and well educated woman 
Meal and bis wife, whose home wa^ on the half-breed r< • 
Hon along the Neman visiting the Fontenelles on 

the Omaha • n It appears that Meal and Tecumseh 

tenelle, more Familiarly known a Dick, had had a quarrel 
on the Nemaha ome ponies but had become 

incited One da) they went into Decatur and became in 

icatcd On the wav home the old <|uarrel was 



192 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

renewed, and upon alighting from his pony at his 
tent Tecumseh attacked Neal with a big knife, se- 
verely cutting him and would probably have killed him 
had not Mrs. Neal — Susan Fontenelle — emptied a pan of hot 
grease on her brother's back. This caused a halt in Tecumseh's 
attack and gave Neal an opportunity to draw a knife and stab 
his assailant who died a few hours later. Neal fled into De- 
catur and hid in a hotel to escape the vengeance of Tecumseh's 
friends who followed him and demanded his surrender. Some 
cool-headed man suggested that they send for Decatur to settle 
the matter. This was decided upon, and Decatur soon appeared 
in answer to the summons. Through his advice and influence 
bloodshed was averted. It was agreed that Neal should be 
taken to Omaha and tried according to the white man's law. 
He was convicted and sent to the Iowa penitentiary for a term 
of a few years. Upon his release he returned to his reservation. 
He never took another drink and became a good citizen. 

In time it began to be whispered about that Decatur was 
not what he claimed to be ; that his name was an assumed one ; 
and that he was no relation of the famous commodore. On 
one occasion in Keith's saloon in Omaha, at the northeast cor- 
ner of Thirteenth and Harney streets, an unsuccessful attempt 
was made to uncover the identity of the "man of mystery." 
This saloon was the popular resort of the town — a social and 
political center. Decatur and some friends were lined up 
against the bar at one end and at the other end stood a young 
officer with some companions. 

After carefully eyeing Decatur the officer approached 
him and said : "You are the man they call Decatur, are you 
not? You are my brother and your name is Bross. Why don't 
you acknowledge your family and give your true name?" A 
most exciting scene followed. Decatur emphatically denied 
everything and flew into an ungovernable rage. The army 
officer said to him : "There's a scar on your left hand that I 
made with a hatchet. If there is a scar there then you are my 
brother; if not, then you are not. Now show your hand!" 

"I refuse to be dictated to or forced by any man " re- 
plied Decatur, "and anyone who declares that I am not Stephen 
Decatur will have to fight me." And he evidently meant what 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 193 

he said. So insistent was he that he was being made the victim 
of mistaken identity that the army officer half acknowledged 
that he was in error, and to avoid a fight he withdrew from the 
saloon accompanied by his associates. The affair was hushed 
up as much as possible, it being agreed among those present 
that nothing should be said about it on the outside. This in- 
cident did not seem to affect the standing of Decatur among 
those of his friends who knew about it and he continued to be 
called "( tommodore." 

Decatur had no idea of business management, which, with 
his love of liquor and dissipation, gradually caused him to lose 
what property he had accumulated. Becoming despondent he 
told his wife that he was going away — farther west — to recoup 
his fortune and then return to her. But he never came back. 

It was in 1859 that Decatur deserted his family and went 
t<- Colorado, being attracted thither by the gold discoveries. 
Going up into the mountains he built a cabin and lived a lonely 
life, spending his time in unsuccessfully prospecting for gold, 
meeting with but little success. The monotony of his isolated 
life was at times varied by occasional callers at his cabin who 
were hospitably entertained. Tic frequently visited George- 
town and contributed some very readable articles to the weekly 
paper. 

In 1870 a party of distinguished men — including Horace 
Greeley, Schuyler Colfax, Deacon William Bross, editor of the 
Chicago Tribune, and others- while on a trip to the Pacific 
Coast made a brief visit in Denser. Deacon BroSS -aid t<> his 
Companions that he intended to lake a run Up into the moun- 
tains to hunt up a long lost brother, who was leading the life 
ot a hermit. "I have been on his trail for many years," said 

Deacon Bross, "and have traced him once or twice, and n<»w 

I propose t<» find him and satisfy myself whether he is tin- man 
• light." 

(JptoG >wn went the Deacon and going to the cabin 

of the "man of mystery" found Stephen Decatur at home. But 

he was unable to ge4 an\ admission whate\er th.it IVeatur 
!i"t the person he Claimed t" be the nephew of th< 

brated commodore lie strenuously denied that he was the 
brother oi Deacon Bross, who returned t<» Denver Breath 



194 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

appointed as he felt certain that the man was telling the truth. 
The fact is that Decatur was the long lost brother. The reason 
for concealing his identity was that in his younger years he 
had deserted his family in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and had 
married a second wife — Mrs. Thomson — in Council Bluffs, 
whom he also abandoned as previously related. 

From Georgetown Decatur moved to Silver Cliff in 
southern Colorado, and in 1876 he was appointed centennial 
commissioner at the Philadelphia exposition where several 
pioneer Nebraskans met him and exchanged reminiscences of 
the early days. He had had his gray whiskers shaved off, and 
a long drooping moustache added to the attractiveness of his 
fine features. He was in charge of a splendid collection of 
Colorado minerals which attracted great attention. 

Decatur was educated at Williams, and had been a princi- 
pal of an academy which fitted young men for college. Xothing 
could ever induce him to return to his relatives and again be- 
come one of the family. His brothers unsuccessfully made 
him several tempting offers to renounce his mode of life 
and "come from under cover." He died as he had lived — a 
mystery. 






CHAPTER XXIII 



PIOXKKR SCHOOL DAYS 



FIRST PRIVATE SCHOOL HELD IN THE TERRITORIAL STATE HOUSE 
— FIRST PUBLIC SCHOOL OPENED IN 1859 BOARD OF EDU- 
CATION ORGANIZED IN 1872. 

Many of the present resi- 
dents of Omaha received their 
education from the pioneer 
teachers, who, with possibly a 
very few exceptions, have long 
K% ^6n cilice passed away. Their pu- 

pils no doubt frequently recall 
r ^~ the days of their early school- 

ing. In the pioneer period the 
opportunities of acquiring an 
' .u education were rather limited 

^. ^j and the schools, owin^ to un- 

favorable circumstances, were 
n< >t conducted np< >n the lines < if 
efficiency that mark those of 
today. The children of the e.»m- 

jjo ja munity were instructed in pri- 

'L/ L iitti v,l,r sc * h(M, l s lint1 ' mr ,;i " "' 



I'rof ••••Hur 



I). II.iiU 



The first private school oc- 
cupied a r« ...in iii the term. >rial 
state house on Ninth street and Miss J. Adelaide Goodwill, who 
niic Mrs. Mien Root, was the teacher. She taught from 
July 1 . 1855, t« i the middle of 1 tecember i »f that year, when the 



I 



196 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



room was vacated to make way for the meeting of the legis- 
lature. Miss Goodwill had forty pupils under her instruction. 
Other private schools opened from time to time. 

In the history of Omaha's early schools the name of Pro- 
fessor S. D. Beals holds a prominent place. In 1861 he 
established a private high school in the north half of the state 
house, and in the fall of that year it was moved to the Hamil- 
ton house, south side of Douglas street, between Fourteenth 




Omaha's first high school building, erected in 1S71!. 
It has given place to a large modern structure — 
Central high school — costing $865,000. 

and Fifteenth. Mrs. J. W. Van Nostrand was Professor Beals' 
assistant. In 1862 this school occupied the First Baptist church 
and two adjacent rooms, north side of Douglas street, be- 
tween Fifteenth and Sixteenth. A year later the church build- 
ing was purchased by Professor Heals and was moved to the 
southeast corner of Fifteenth street and Capitol avenue and 
here he continued to teach for several years. In 1863 a school 
was held in a building on Jefferson square, the teacher being 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 197 

Miss Celestial Parker, who married Joel A. Griffin. Miss 
Burkley, daughter of Vincent Burkley, and sister of Frank J. 
and Harry V. Burkley, was a teacher in a school at Howard 
and Eighth streets. 

On the first day of November, 1859, the first Omaha 
public school was opened and continued in session until June 1, 
186*0. The school board, consisting of A. D. Jones, 
John H. Kellom and Dr. Gilbert C. Monell, employed Howard 
Kennedy as teacher, his salary being fixed at $1,000 a year. 
The school was held in a room of the territorial capitol. 

In 1860 the first high school was established and three 
subordinate schools were added to Omaha's educational system. 

On January 2, 1861, the school board — Dr. Monell, 
Jesse Lowe and Mr. Kellom — reported to the territorial com- 
missioner of schools as follows : "One male teacher was em- 
ployed to teach the higher studies and superintend the subor- 
dinate teachers in the different schools. One principal school 
and three subordinate departments do not sufficiently accom- 
modate all the pupils. The average attendance is about sixty 
pupils to the teacher, yet eighty or ninety were present. Four 
subordinate schools are needed, but even these cannot be sus- 
tained the coming year without more funds." 

In order to raise the needed funds, the board decided to 
charge each pupil a small tuition fee. The scale of charges was 
fixed as follows: Pupils studying higher than first lessons in 
geography and arithmetic. SI per quarter; pupils in the com- 
mon branches, including philosophy, single entry book keep- 
ing and elementary algebra. $2 per quarter; for instruction, in 

Latin. French, Greek and German, chemistry, surveying, alge- 
bra and "belles lettrcs." (so -late- the report ). So per quarter, 

Non-resident pupils were charged double rate 

The ino 'me i'< >r the year 1 860 was, $1 ,246. & » ; licenses and 
fine 6 60; total, $1,903 l ( ». The expenses exactly equaled 

the income, the board of education evidently having determined 

not to run in debt. There were 187 pupils who studied arith- 
metic. \()7 raphv. 93 grammar, 496 reading and spelling. 

and 68 m other branch 

The board "i school examiner- reported that they had 
found the following persons t<- be i >1 moral chara< t< i and 



198 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

qualified to teach orthography, reading, writing, arithmetic, 
geography and English grammar: Howard Kennedy, J. J. 
Monell, Mrs. Isabelle Torrey, Miss F. Seymour, Miss Smiley, 
Edward Kelley, H. Davis, Mrs. Mary P. Rust, Mrs. Nye, Miss 
A. Hayes, and Miss Hamilton. These persons were granted 
certificates for one year. This report, which was signed by 
George I. Gilbert, is evidence of the time of the establishment 
of the first graded school. The hard times of 1859 and 1860 de- 
layed for some time the building of school houses sufficient to 
accommodate the increasing demands. 

The first standard high school was inaugurated by a board 
of trustees composed of the following : A. J. Simpson, presi- 
dent; B. E. B. Kennedy, director; John Evans, treasurer; 
Ezra Millard, Rev. H. W. Kuhns and J. H. Kellom. The first 
sessions of this high school were in the south room of a brick 
building, southeast corner of Sixteenth and Chicago streets, 
Mr. Kellom being the instructor. 

In the spring of 1872 the school was held in a building on 
Jackson street, between Fourteenth and Fifteenth, and re- 
mained there until the fall of 1872, when it moved into the 
high school building which had been erected on Capitol square. 
At this time Mr. Kellom was principal, and Job Rabin and R. 
E. Gaylord were assistants. 

Omaha was consolidated into one school district by legis- 
lative enactment at the session in January, 1871, the originator 
and promoter of the bill being Edward Rosewater, who was a 
member of the lower house. Under this law the schools were 
placed under the control of a board of education, which was 
organized May 6, 1872, and consisted of John T. Edgar, presi- 
dent; Thomas F. Hall, vice-president; Flemon Drake, secre- 
tary; Theodore Baumer, Charles M. Connoyer, Vincent Burk- 
ley, Adolphus Boehme, C. W. Hamilton, Alvin Saunders, 
Howard Kennedy, Joseph Redman, James Creighton. 

The city then had six wards, and each ward was repre- 
sented by two members elected by the people. The regular 
grading of the schools was done by S. D. Beals in 1872. The 
first superintendent of the schools after the consolidation of 
Omaha into one district was A. F. Nightingale, who held the 
position several years, and was succeeded by H. M. James. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 199 

When Nebraska was admitted as a state in 1867, and the 
capital was moved to Lincoln, Capitol square reverted to Oma- 
ha to be used for school purposes. The territorial capitol was 
torn down and in its place was erected the first high school 
building — a substantial and handsome structure — which was 
begun in 1871 and completed the following year, the cost being 
$250,000. It was demolished early in 1900, and in its place a 
larger and more modern building was erected at a cost of 
$865,250, being completed in November, 1912. Omaha in 
1922 had ninety-seven school buildings, and the value of 
school property was estimated at $12,852,130. There were 
1,247 teachers, under the superintendence of John H. 
Beveridge. There were 36,000 pupils, the average attendance 
being 31,120. The secretary of the board of education, which 
handles the business affairs of the school district, is \Y. T. 
Bourke, who has filled this important position since August, 
1912. 

Among the new buildings are the Minne Lusa, costing 
$62,779, and the technical high school now in course of con- 
struction, and which will cost $3,500,000. 

John 11. Kellom, who figured prominently in Omaha's 
pioneer educational affairs, came to Omaha early in 1857 from 
New York, and opened a bank in connection with Mr. (iridley. 
The great panic of that year caused this bank to close its doors, 

as did nearly every financial institution in the territory. 

In settling up his affairs Mr. Kellom took several acres 
of land as his portion and put it on the market at $40 per acre, 
but no purchaser could be found. Sonic years later he sold this 
land for $2,000 an acre. This land is included in Kellom's ad- 
dition to Omaha, the east boundary of which is the wesl side 
of Twenty-fourth street, from Farnam to Dodge. The Hamil- 
ton apartments at the northwest corner of Farnam and Twen- 
ty-fourth Streets are iu this addition. 

Iii 1858 Mr. Kellom engaged in the grocery business with 

Henry /oiler. The next year he was appointed clerk of the 

United States district court, holding the position three years 

In 1862 he was appointed deputy collector, and in 186S he was 

commissioned postmaster, serving nine months, in 1866 he 

selected l»\ the school board to make arrangements for the 



200 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

establishment of a high school and later he was made the prin- 
cipal, in which position he remained three years. Mr. Kellom 
moved to California in 1880 and there purchased an orange 
and lemon grove of forty acres on which there were 2,000 
bearing trees. He died several years ago. Kellom school was 
named in his honor. 

Howard Kennedy was another man who took great inter- 
est in school affairs. He came to Omaha in 1859, and taught 
the first public school, as previously stated. Me served ten years 
as member of the board of education — one term as president 
— and as a reward for his valuable services the Howard Ken- 
nedy school was named after him. 

The Edward Rosewater school was so named as a testi- 
monial to Mr. Rosewater, author of the bill creating the present 
school district and system. Another school building was named 
in honor of Eben K. Long, who died in 1922 at the age of 93 
years. 

Professor Beals, who had won a high reputation as an 
educator, was called upon in 1872 to grade the public schools, 
in which he was assisted by Lyman Hutchinson. Upon the 
completion of this work Professor Beals was employed as 
principal in one of the schools, and in 1873 he was elected 
county superintendent. In 1874 he was made city superintend- 
ent. He held this position for six years, and later became a 
teacher in the high school. Beals' school, Forty-eighth and 
Center streets, was named for him. 



CHAPTER XXIV 



PIONEER CHURCHES AND CHURCHMEN 



FIRST RELIGIOUS SERVK ES IX OMAHA WERE CONDUCTED BY A 
METHODIST PREACHER — THE ROMAN CATHOLICS ERECTED 
FIRST CHURCH EDIFICE— REV. MR. LEMON'S FAILURE TO BE- 
COME A LAWYER REV. REUBEN GAYLORD, FIRST CONGREGA- 
TIONAL PASTOR — MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF REV. MR. 
GAYLORD'S SON RALPH REV. II. \V. Ki'HXS. PIONEER LUTH- 
ERAN MINISTER EPISCOPALIANS, PRESBYTERIANS, BAPTISTS, 
AND "I II BR < ONGREGA1 EONS. 

Religion secured an early foothold in Omaha. The hon- 
or of being first "ii the ground belongs to the Methodists. Soon 
after the "St. Nicholas hotel" otherwise known as the Claim 
house of the Council Bluffs and Nebraska Ferry company and 
a few other houses were completed in the summer of 1854, an 
invitation w a tided to Rev. Mr. Cooper of Council Bluffs 

to hold religious services in the future metropolis of Nebraska. 
Mr. Cooper gladly accepted the invitation, and on Sunday. 
August 15th, he preached to a small 1>nt appreciative congrega- 
tion. There were twenty-five persons present, the majority 
being residents of Council Bluffs, who came over to make a 
good showing and with the intention of later making their 
home in Omaha. Rev. Mr. Cooper continued to hold services 
in Omaha Sunday for several months, and on week days 

lit- earned an honest living by working in Jones' ^t<'iie quai 

which later became the propert) of John Green, who operated 
it for leveral years. The stone from this quarr) was used in 
the foundation of the Western Exchange building, southwest 
comer of Farnam and Twelfth Jtreel . which u r many 



202 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

years occupied by the banking firm of Caldwell, Hamilton & 
Co., who organized the United States National bank, and re- 
placed the Western Exchange building with a six-story stone 
structure, now called the Wilkinson. 

Rev. Isaac Collins, who succeeded Mr. Cooper, came to 
Omaha in the spring of 1855 as a regularly appointed mission- 
ary with authority to organize a Methodist society. Services 
were held in the state house, and by September he had succeeded 
in enlisting only six persons as members of his congregation. 
However, he was not in the least discouraged. The ferry com- 
pany, with a due regard to the beneficial effects of religion, 
had donated two lots on Thirteenth street to the Methodists, 
and these lots were sold for $1,500. The money was expended 
in the erection of a small church, which was completed in the 
fall of 1856, and dedicated by Rev. Moses F. Shinn, presiding 
elder, who then resided in Council Bluffs. This church stood 
on the west side of Thirteenth street on a lot now occupied by 
the Bromley building, formerly the home of the Omaha 
National bank. 

Mr. Collins' successor was Rev. John Chivington, of 
whom it is related that in the course of a Thanksgiving ser- 
mon he remarked that "he could not see what in the least any 
of those present had to be thankful for." In all probability 
his congregation was not at that time having a smooth road 
to travel. Mr. Chivington in 1862 gave place to Rev. W. M. 
Smith, a radical abolitionist, who soon took his departure 
owing to threats of violence from southern sympathizers. Rev. 
T. B. Lemon was then called to fill the pulpit. In 1865, at the 
close of the civil war, Mr. Smith returned to his Omaha pulpit. 

Many of the old-timers will remember Rev. Mr. Lemon. 
When he came to Omaha in the early days he decided to become 
a lawyer and studied for some time under Chief Justice Fergu- 
son, who in 1856 presented his student for admission to the 
bar. The examining committee consisted of Messrs. Popple- 
ton, Seeley and Estabrook. The applicant was given a suppo- 
sititious replevin case and was asked what would be his plea. 

"Plea?" said Mr. Lemon, interrogatively. 

"Yes, what would your plea be?" asked General Esta- 
brook. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 203 

' "Plea?" said Mr. Lemon. 

"Yes, what do you understand by a plea, anyhow?" asked 
Estabrook. 

"Oh, it's the speech that the lawyer makes to the jury," 
was Mr. Lemon's reply. 

General Estabrook could not comprehend how a man giv- 
ing such an answer was qualified to practice law. The appli- 
cant was rejected. 

At the next term of court Mr. Lemon made another and 
more successful attempt, and was admitted. He did not prac- 
tice very long, and becoming convinced that he was not cut 
out for a lawyer he resumed preaching. Mr. Lemon was 
known throughout this state as an excellent man and a hard 
working, practical and faithful minister of the gospel and dur- 
ing his many years of service in the Nebraska vineyard of the 
Lord he did a great deal of good. Mr. Lemon came here from 
Baltimore. 

In 1855 Rev. William Leach came to Omaha as a Bap- 
tist missionary, and during his stay of a few months conducted 
services in the territorial state house. He was a dentist and took 
care of the tooth troubles of the community during the week- 
days. He did not succeed in effecting a permanent church or- 
ganization. Nothing more was done by the Baptists until 1859, 
when Rev, Mr. Barnes, a New Yorker, who was having a 
hard struggle in Florence, came to Omaha on a salary of $400 
from the Board of Missions, and organized the First Baptist 
church. A one-Story frame church was built on Douglas street, 
between Fifteenth and Sixteenth. In 1862 the congregation 
found itself deeply in debt and discouraged. Disbandment 
followed, and the church property was sold. Mr. Barnes 
packed his carpet-bag with his sermons and other effects and 

quit. A reorganization was brought about in 1866 by Rev. 
W. J. Kennott, who temporarily held services in the county 
courthouse, northeast corner of Farnam and Sixteenth streets, 

where ii'»w stands the Paxton block. A frame ehureh was 

built at the southwest corner of Fifteenth and Davenport 
streets, and 111 1870 a brick structure was erected at this loca- 
tion. It has long since given \\a\ to business buildings. 
The advance guard of the Congregationalists was ke\ 



204 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



Reuben Gaylofd, who regis- 
tered here in September, 
1855, his family following 
on Christmas day. He at 
once rounded up members of 
his denomination. 

Mr. Gaylord began his 
preaching in the territorial 
state house in December, 
1855. His salary was $600. 
On May 4, 1856, he organ- 
ized in the council chamber 
of the state house the First 
Congregational church with 
nine members, and steps 
were taken for the building 
of a house of worship. T. 
G. Goodwill, E. Estabrook 
and Lorin Miller, father of 
Dr. Miller, were chosen trus- 
tees. By the foresight of Rev. 
G. G. Rice of Council Bluffs, 
who died in that city in 1922 
at the age of 102 years, an Omaha town lot had been set aside 
by the ferry company for a church. While it was being 
built Mr. Gaylord held services in the Douglas hotel 
dining room. On October 26, 1856, the basement of the new 
church was occupied as the place of worship. This little brick 
church was located on the west side of Sixteenth street, be- 
tween Farnam and Douglas. It occupied the west end of the 
lot on which the McCrory 10-cent store stands. When Redick's 
two-story frame opera house was built in 1871, the little brick 
church (the property having been sold) was added as a north- 
west wing in which the federal court was held for several 
years. It was also used as the city council chamber until the 
opera house was given over entirely to city hall purposes. At 
the farewell services, held in 1867, when the congregation 
moved to its new home, Nineteenth and Chicago streets, Mr. 
Gaylord delivered a very interesting sermon, relating 




Rev. Reuben (iaylor«l 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



205 



his religious experiences in Omaha, extending over a 
period of twelve years. Upon his retirement from the pas- 
torate of the First Congregational church in 1865 Air. Gay- 
lord devoted the remaining years of his life to general church 
work in and out of Omaha. His death occurred January 10, 




Z*^ . jft ^LJl v^'MGss^ '^#4&y0yi&-<4*^ 



- 



First Const eft'atlonal church luilMhiu in Omaha, erected in 1857 



1880. lie graduated at the head of a class of seventy at Yale 
in 1834, and graduated from Yale Theological seminary three 
years later. Mr. (iavlord was one of the founders of l<>\\a 
College, and for many years was one of its trustees. No min- 
ister of the gospel ever was held in higher esteem by the people 
of Omaha than Rev. Reuben Gaylord. 

In 1<XN ( ) Mrs. (iavlnnl wrote, compiled and published the 

"Life and Labors of Rev. Reuben Gaylord," an interesting 
volume of nearly 1-50 pages. It contains a great deal of tin* 



206 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

early history of Omaha and Nebraska and Iowa. There is not 
a dull page in it. 

Mr. Gaylord's adopted son, Ralph, grew to manhood in 
Omaha and became a popular young citizen. He received a 
college education, and for two years was assistant principal of 
the Omaha high school. In 1876 he was admitted to the bar, 
having studied law in the office of Ambrose & Briggs. He 
was associated with John L. Webster in the practice of law 
for two years. He served as a member of the board of edu- 
cation and was a member of the lower house of the legislature 
in the winter of 1879-80. Abandoning the practice of law, 
Ralph Gaylord engaged in the real estate business with Frank 
Muir, and followed this occupation until 1893, when one day 
he disappeared, and has never since been seen or heard from 
by any one who knew him. 

This is one of the unsolved mysteries of Omaha. The 
cause of his disappearance and the abandonment of his family 
was generally believed to be due to financial difficulties. 

Rev. A. D. S to well succeeded Rev. Mr. Gaylord as pas- 
tor of the First Congregational church, and was soon followed 
by Rev. E. S. Palmer. Rev. A. F. Sherrill, who was ordained 
in 1869, took charge of the congregation in 1870, and remained 
eight years. He is now connected with an educational institu- 
tion in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Then came Dr. Duryea of Boston, who presided in a new 
brick church at Nineteenth and Chicago, the structure having 
replaced the frame building. This property was recently 
sold, a new location having been secured at Harney and Thirty- 
sixth, where a new and beautiful church has been built, and is 
named First Central Congregational. 

The Episcopalians organized Trinity parish in 1856. 
Bishop Kemper, missionary bishop of the northwest, came here 
from Wisconsin with Bishop Lee of Iowa, and Rev. W. U. 
Irish of Missouri, and held services Sunday morning and 
evening, July 13th. Samuel Moffat was chosen senior warden 
of the parish, and C. \V. Hamilton was made junior warden. 
The vestrymen were Thomas B. Cuming, A. J. Hanscom, V 
F. Salisbury and Jonas Seeley. Rev. G. W, Watson, serving 
as a missionary in Council Bluffs, was engaged as minister. 



Till-: STORY OF OMAHA 207 

He continued as rector until July, 1860. 

In 1857 a lot was purchased at the northwest corner of 
Davenport and Fourteenth streets and the cornerstone of a 
proposed church building was laid with imposing ceremonies. 
But this location was abandoned and a lot at the southwest 
corner of Ninth and Farnam streets was leased for ten years. 
A small brick church was erected on this lot. At the expira- 
tion of the lease the property with the improvements reverted 
to the owner. The church and grounds were converted into a 
music hall and beer garden, which aided greatly in making 
Omaha famous. This beer garden being in a then busy sec- 
tion of the city became a popular resort. It was conducted 
by Mr. Siebilist, who was a connoisseur in the art of preparing 
special dishe The place became celebrated for its crawfish 
lunches and the music of Thiele's orchestra. 

Trinity parish had purchased in 1867 a lot at the south- 
east corner of Capitol avenue and Eighteenth street, and built 
a frame church there. It was destroyed by fire in 1869. An- 
other frame arose in its place and continued in use until the 
erection of the cathedral in 1882. 

Rev. Mr. Watson, first rector <>t Trinity parish, was suc- 
ceeded by Rev. John West, who served one year. Then came 
O. C. Dake for two years, followed by \V. A. Van Antwerp, 
who was rector from 1X64 to 1868. George C. I>etts preached 
for one year. John (]. Gassman, brother-in-law of Bishop 
Clarkson, was rector for two years, and then went 
i" California, where he died in 1 ( M7. his wife dying a year 
later. Alexander Garrett, who was in charge of Trinity for 

three year-, was an eloquent minister, and \\;h promoted to 

be missionary bishop in Texas, lie was succeeded by Frank 
I\ Millspaugh, who married a daughter of Bishop Clarkson, 
and upon leaving Trinity was made bishop of Kansas. Me 

died in November, 1918. 

St. Barnabas Episcopal church was organized in May, 
1869, with twenty-six members, is first officers being Robert 

C. Jordan, -em"!" warden; James W. Van Nbstrand, innior 

warden; General George I). Ruggles, George I Labaugh, 

rge 1. Mayer, M L Seward and Frederick ( < Mason, \- 
rvmen. This was th< i nd Episcopal congregation in Omaha 



208 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



The first rector was 
Rev. George C. 
Betts, who officiated 
until 1872. Rev. 
James C. Hammond 
was in charge from 
1872 until late in 
1875. The church 
was without a regu- 
lar pastor until Tune 
27, 1877, when Rev. 
John Williams, now 
familiarly known as 
Father Williams, 
was installed as min- 
ister of the parish. 
Father Williams 
who retired in 1914 
and was succeeded 
Hi by Rev. Lloyd B. 
Holsapple, was born 
in Ireland and cele- 
brated his eighty- 
eighth birthday on 
June 21, 1922. All 
Saints church was 
organized in 1886. 
Rev. Louis Zahner 
was the first rector. He resigned in 1891, and was succeeded 
by Rev. T. J. Mackay, who was the rector from that time until 
his death in 1920. This church is now in charge of Rev. Thomas 
Casady. 

Robert H. Clarkson who was rector of St. James parish 
in Chicago for seventeen years, was consecrated bishop of 
Nebraska and Dakota in the fall of 1866, and immediately 
came to Omaha, where he passed the remainder of his life. 
Bishop Clarkson died in 1884, and lies at rest with his wife 
in a grave just south of Trinity cathedral. He was suc- 
ceeded by Bishop George T. Worthington, who came from 




Uislion Robert H. Clarkson 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



209 



Detroit, and died in 1907. His successor was Bishop A. L. 
Williams, who passed away February 13, 1919. The present 
bishop is Rt. Rev. E. V. Shayler, who was one of Seattle's 
prominent and popular ministers. 

In the summer of 1855 Father Edmonds of the Roman 
Catholic church visited Omaha and in the representative hall 
of the state house celebrated the first mass in this city. He was 
the pioneer priest in Omaha and Nebraska. He found about 
twenty Catholic families here. 

The Roman Catholics 
built and completed the first 
church edifice — a brick struc- 
ture — in Omaha. It was lo- 
cated on Eighth street, be- 
tween Harney and Howard, 
on ground donated by the 
ferry company. It was dedi- 
cated in August, 1856, by 
Father Scanlon of St. Jo- 
seph, and was named St. 
Mary's. 

In 1857 Rev. Father 
( 'amiun came from Kansas 
and took charge of St. Philo- 
mena's parish as the first 
regular past >r. 1 [e was suc- 
ceeded as pastor by Father 
William Kelley, the first 
priest ordained on Nebraska 
soil, his ordination being 
held in St. Mary's church. 
The first ( latholic church 




III. I<«'\. JtBICI OM.oriim ii, 
flr*l \ h'fir-iipoNt ollc nf \«'brn*kji 



choir was organized in the 
fall of 1859 by Vincent Burkley, father of Frank and Harry 
Burkley. This choir included his family, and it sang the first 
mass in the little church. T. « I I loodwill's melodeon was bor 
rowed from the Episcopalians for this occasion. 

Upon the completion of St Philomena'a cathedral on 
Ninth street in 1867, St. Mary's church was given over for 



210 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



,~J?^~~» 




THE STORY OF OMAHA 



211 



school purposes until 1882, when it was demolished to make 
room for the Burlington freight depot and yards. St. Philo- 
mena's cathedral has disappeared, having given way to the en- 






■ 




■t< PIiIIoiim-iiji < it t licil ru I. ircrlctl in 1867. :iinl ilrmnl Ulinl in I HOT. In 
111.1U1 iiioin lor 11 liirui* bUMlnrMM Itiiihlinu, 



croachmenl of business, and Its former site is now covered by 
the fohn Deert l'l<»w company's building. 

The first bishop who had jurisdiction over Nebraska was 
Bi hop M 5. I .. of Leavenworth, Kansas. He was the 

vicar apostolic of all the region north of the Indian Territory 
and west from the Missouri river to the Rock> mountains. In 



212 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



1858 he decided that the northern part of this district should 
be set aside by itself, and at the provincial council in St. Louis 
he secured the appointment of James M. O'Gorman. a Trappist 
monk, as vicar-apostolic of Nebraska. Bishop O'Gorman was 
consecrated in the following year, and was the first prelate of 
Omaha, lie died July 4, 1874, and was succeeded by Rt. Rev. 




lit. Rev, J nines O'Connor, 
first Catholic bishop of Oiiiulta 



lit. Hev. Richard Scannell, secoml 
Catholic bishop of Omnlia 



James O'Connor, the second vicar-apostolic and first bishop of 
Omaha. Bishop O'Connor presided over this diocese nearly 
fifteen years. He passed away May 27, 1890. His successor 
was Rt. Rev. Richard Scannell, who died January 8, 1916. 
Rt. Rev. J. J. Harty, who now presides over this diocese, was 
archbishop of Manila, and his full title is archbishop-bishop. 
I [e is bishop of ( )maha. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



213 



Rev. John Bergen, an Old School Presbyterian, organized 
the first Presbyterian church in Omaha in 1857, and continued 
his work for two years, when he was succeeded by Rev. George 
Webster. The ruling elders at that time were Ezra Millard and 
John R. Meredith. Owing to financial embarrassments and 
internal dissensions this church went out of existence, and was 
followed by the Second Presbyterian, established by Rev. F. M. 
Dimmick, who was sent here for that purpose by the new 
school board of missions. Mr. Dimmick continued here until 
1870. Rev. George D. Stewart came next and remained until 
1877, being followed by Rev. W. J. Harsha. 

The pioneer Lutheran 
minister in Omaha was 
Rev. Henry Welty Kuhns, 
I). 1). lie was the first 
Lutheran missionary west 
of the Missouri river, and 
wa< the first minister of his 
denomination to locate in 
Nebraska. Me came to 
( )maha in 1858, as the mis- 
sionary of the Lutheran 
church, appointed by the 
Allegheny synod. The field 
to which his commission as- 
signed him embraced the 
country west of the Mis- 
souri river to the Rocky 
iter. n«..,rv w«iti mm mountains. 

I [enry Welty Kuhns was born August 23, 1829, in ( rreens- 
burg, Pennsylvania. In 1*31 he entered the preparatory de- 
partment of Pennsylvania college, Gettysburg, from which he 
graduated in 1856 with distinguished honor, being the Latin 
salutatorian ol his class. He was educated for the ministry 
at the theological seminary at Gettysburg, where he gradu- 
ated in 1858. tie was licensed to preach b) the Pittsburg synod 
at Leechburg in 1858, and at Bedford, Pennsylvania, he was 
commissioned in the same y* missionary to Nebraska 

wild territory/ 1 by the Allegheny synod with the munificent 




214 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

salary of five hundred dollars a year. This missionary com- 
mission read to ''Omaha and adjacent parts." Dr. Kuhns 
arrived in Omaha City November 19, 1858, after nineteen 
days of continuous traveling from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. 
Omaha at that time had a population of over 1,500. 

On Saturday, November 20th, he "went about looking up" 
his people. Having gathered the families whose church affili- 
ation in their old homes "back east" had been with the Lutheran 
denomination, he arranged for a service on Sunday, Novem- 
ber 21st, at 3 o'clock in the Methodist church. He preached his 
first sermon from the text selected by his parents. The following 
Sunday he preached in the morning for Rev. Reuben Gaylord, 
in the Congregational church, in which some time 
later the Emmanuel Lutheran congregation worshipped until 
it secured its own church building. December 5th, he 
"preached in the Methodist church to his own people." After 
the sermon he organized the congregation known as Emmanuel 
Evangelical Lutheran church, now Kountze Memorial, with 
nine members, "who surrounded the altar and received the 
right hand of fellowship." These members were Augustus 
Kountze, Miss Clementine Kountze, (who became the wife of 
S. R. Brown) Mrs. Adeline Ruth, Daniel Redman, Mrs. Jane 
Redman, Uriah Bruner, Dr. and Mrs. Augutus Roeder, and 
Miss Katherine Brandt. At this time Frederick Schneider 
and his wife were confirmed. Officers were elected, and 
Augustus Kountze and Dr. Augustus Roeder were chosen as 
deacons, and Daniel Redman and Uriah Bruner were selected 
as elders. Mr. and Mrs. Fred Drexel were to have been re- 
ceived into church connection at this time, but "they lived in 
the country, now South Omaha, and owing to the weather 
and the condition of the roads," they were not present, but 
were received the following Sunday. The membership of the 
church then consisted of Augustus Kountze, Miss Clementine 
Kountze, Mrs. Adeline Ruth, Daniel and Eliza Redman, Jo- 
seph and Mary Jane Redman, Uriah Bruner, George Stork, 
Kate Brandt, George Herzog, Dr. Augustus Roeder, and Mr. 
and Mrs. Frederick Schneider, and these were the charter mem- 
bers of the church, now known as Kountze Memorial Evan- 
gelical Lutheran church. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 215 

In 1860 a small brick church building was erected on a 
lot on Douglas street, now a portion of the site of the Millard 
hotel. The brick work on this edifice was done by the With- 
nell brothers. This church was completed and dedicated 
February 16, 1862. In 1861 a brick parsonage was built on 
the lot east of and adjoining the church. Emmanuel Lutheran 
church, which had been maintained as a mission of the Alle- 
gheny synod, became a self-sustaining congregation in 1864. 

Radiating from Omaha as a center, Dr. Kuhns rode on 
horseback over the greater part of the territory assigned to 
him, caring for twenty-five places where he had organized con- 
gregations or had established preaching stations, such as De 
Soto, Tekamah, Omadi, Decatur, Dakota City, Pacific City, 
Elk Point, Ponca, and other points. Dr. Kuhns repeatedly said : 
"There was not a state between the Missouri river and the 
Rocky mountains that I have not visited and in which I have 
not preached the gospel." An old colleague of his, Rev. J. F. 
Kuhlman, said : "It is certain that in the course of the first 
few years Brother Kuhns had visited almost every town and 
settlement as far west as civilization had extended. The towns 
where missions, or preaching stations were started, were strung 
along the Missouri river and its tributaries. There were Brown- 
ville and Falls ( itv to the south, and Ponca to the north. On the 
Elkhorn were Fontenelle and Wesl Point. The Platte had 
Fremont, Columbus, Grand Island, and North Platte; west of 
these were Cheyenne and Laramie. Beyond and between these 
places was one vasl prairie." Dr. Kuhns' mission work took 
him to Yankton, South Dakota, where he preached in 1859, 
and to Fort Benton, on the upper Missouri, in Montana, at 
that time a part of Nebraska territory included in the Louisiana 
purchase. On the floor of the Nebraska synod at its animal 

convention in 1890, in Denver, in response t«> the mayor's 

address of welcome, he facetiously said to the mayor, that lie 
"had been in Denver when the city was only a squalid collec- 
tion of cabins and Cherrj Creek usurped the town site." 
When the Union Pacific railroad was completed, Dr. 

Knl nis, in behalf of the (lunch, made a trip to ( 'ali f« »rnia where 

he found quits a number of scattered Lutherans. Several 
trips were made by him into Kansas. He experienced a very 



216 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

narrow escape at Lawrence from Quantrell's guerrillas, who 
sacked that town August 20, 1863. He rode out of Lawrence 
on his Indian pony just before Quantrell entered the town, 
sheltered by the moonless night and riding in the starlight. 
He told us that this was "a gruesome ride." Another trip 
was made in May, 1865, into Kansas to attend a conference of 
Lutheran ministers at Monrovia. During this conference, on 
Sunday evening, May 28th, he preached the dedicatory sermon 
of the Monrovia Lutheran church. 

Dr Kuhns, like all the pioneers, took his part in the civic 
development of Omaha. In this connection it is interesting to 
relate that the first bell that was used to sound the fire alarm 
in Omaha was that of the Lutheran church, which was located 
not far from the Hook and Ladder company's house. As 
the parsonage adjoined the church it fell to the lot of Dr. 
Kuhns to ring the alarm. This bell was rung without fail day 
or night in case of fire until the department had a bell of its 
own. This bell was secured by Dr. Kuhns in an interesting 
way. Friends in the east sent him two quarts of chestnuts. 
Knowing there was quite a number of former Pennsyl- 
vanians and others in Omaha who were fond of chestnuts he 
took the happy expedient of selling them at a dime a piece, not 
for any intrinsic value, but to raise money for the bell fund. 
So the bell, which still rings forth from Kountze Memorial 
church, was purchased with the fund started by the sale of 
these two quarts of chestnuts. 

For several years Dr. Kuhns was a member of the board 
of education. While serving in this capacity he was largely 
instrumental in securing the location of the Nebraska deaf 
and dumb institute in Omaha. Judge Savage says in his his- 
tory of Omaha: ''The first efforts for the establishment of 
this institution were those of Rev. Henry W. Kuhns, then a 
member of the Omaha school board, to whom the parents of 
Kate Callahan, a little deaf mute of this city, made applica- 
tion to have her educated at the expense of the state. Mr. 
Kuhns saw the necessity for a state institution for the purpose 
of educating the deaf, and he took the leadership in agitating 
the question of having one provided. The subject was taken 
up by other citizens and the newspapers, and the act of the 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 217 

legislature authorizing the establishment was approved Feb- 
ruary 7, 1867, and in April, 1869, the institution was opened 
for the admission of pupils. There was great rejoicing on the 
part of the friends of the institution when the appropriation 
of $32,000 was secured, and the money brought up from Lin- 
coln to Omaha in the stage coach by Dr. Kuhns," and paid over 
to Joseph II. Millard, treasurer. For live years Dr. Kuhns 
served as secretary of the board of directors of this institution. 

Dr. Kuhns was chaplain of the Nebraska legislature in 
1858-59-60. Upon the establishment of the Nebraska state 
university, he was elected to the chair of natural science, but 
declined the honor. 

A contemporary of Dr. Kuhns, Rev. F. M. Dimmick, 
pastor of the First Presbyterian church, fittingly said: "Dr. 
Kuhns was a great worker inside his study as well as outside 
of it, and his sermons were distinguished for their elegance, 
scholarship and finish. He was thoroughly conversant with 
theological matters and never failed to interest his audience 
when he handled topics of that nature. Above all, he was 
practical and his preaching appealed not only to the heart, but 
also to the reason of bis auditors, lie was a ready extempor- 
aneous speaker and in time became the leading pastor of the 
city." In 1871, on account of impaired health due to exposure 
on the plains in the prosecution of his mission w < >rk, I )r. Kuhns 
retired from his Omaha pastorate, bis congregation having in- 
creased from nine members to two hundred and fifty. In 
1872, on the advice of his physician, be sought a milder cli- 
mate, and moved to Newberry, South Carolina. 

I )r. Kuhns found the church in Newberry with a mem- 
bership of only forty-tWO, which in 1878, when be left the 
SOUth, had grown to two hundred members. During bis pas- 
torate in Newberry be caused the church building to be re- 
modeled and a commodious pars* mage to be built. Through his 
untiring efforts Newberry college, then located at Walhalla, 
was transferred to Newberry, from whence it bad been moved 
in 1K6S. lb- secured the release of claims against the coll* 
amounting to $20,000, and their assignment t<» the South Car- 
olina synod. Newberry college, having been returned t" New- 
berry, a suitable building, costing $20,000, was erected. 



218 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

In 1878 Dr. Kuhns went to Westminster, Maryland, 
where he met with his usual success. The church and parson- 
age were destroyed in a conflagration that burned a large part 
of the business and residence section of the town in the spring 
of 1883. Through his efforts the church and parsonage were 
rebuilt on larger and modern plans. By 1886' the Westminster 
charge had so increased that it was divided, and a new parish, 
Salem Charge, was constituted. In 1887 he resigned the West- 
minster pastorate and returned to Omaha. 

Among the results of Dr. Kuhns' missionary labor in the 
west was the acquiring of eighty-seven lots for church pur- 
poses in widely separated localities, in trust for the Lutheran 
church, all of which, with the exception of five, were in use 
in 1890 by English, German, or Scandinavian Lutheran 
churches. This church property is estimated to be worth today 
many thousands of dollars, and Rev. A. W. Lilly, D. D., 
president of the board of church extension of the general 
synod of the Lutheran church at Altoona, Pennsylvania, at 
the biennial convention of that synod recognized this work of 
Dr. Kuhns as "laying the foundation for the present church 
extension work" of his denomination. 

The honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred 
upon Dr. Kuhns in 1883 by Newberry college. From 1883 to 
1887, while residing at Westminster, Maryland, he was a mem- 
ber of the board of home missions of the general synod, 
through which instrumentality many churches of the Lutheran 
denomination have been established in the west since pioneer 
days, and in the furtherance of this work his counsel was much 
sought. In 1887 he was a member of the convention of the 
general synod which met in Omaha and which gave a constitu- 
tion to the board of education of the Lutheran church. By 
special request of the synod Dr. Kuhns preached in Kountze 
Memorial church the same sermon he had delivered thirty years 
before in founding that church and inaugurating his mission 
work. In 1893 Dr. Kuhns was a member of the board of 
education of the church which fostered the founding of both 
Midland college and the Western theological seminary now 
located at Fremont, Nebraska. He participated in the organ- 
ization of that seminary, and secured for it the first donation 









THE STORY OF OMAHA 219 

of money. From 1858 to 1864 Dr. Kuhns stood alone in 
Nebraska, but today there are over four hundred ministers 
and three hundred congregations of the Lutheran faith, and 
his pioneer labors have resulted in extending the Lutheran 
church beyond the borders of this state into Missouri, Kansas, 
South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado, with schools, colleges 
and hospitals to supplement and support the work of the rapidly 
growing denomination. 

On October 18, 1860, Dr. Kuhns married Miss Charlotte 
J. Hay of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, daughter of Dr. Michael 
Hay, and great grand-daughter of Colonel John Hay of 
York, Pennsylvania, who was very prominent in colonial and 
revolutionary affairs in that state. Mrs. Kuhns immediately 
came to Omaha with her husband, who had established the 
church two years before. She was the first Lutheran min- 
ister's wife west of the Missouri river, and she bravely, and 
with great consecration, shared the privations of her husband 
in missionary work, and even accompanied him on his mission- 
ary journeys. It was by such sacrifices on the part of the 
pioneer women of Nebraska that these broad prairies of ours 
have been consecrated. Mrs. Kuhns died in Omaha April 24, 
1898. With George Essex Evans, it can be said: 

"The wide prairies hold the secrets of their longing and desires. 
When the white stars in reverence light their holy altar fires. 
And silence, like a touch of God, sinks deep into the breast — 
I'erehance He hears and understands the women of the West." 

live children were born to Dr. and Mrs. Kuhns, of whom 
there are living Rev. Luther M. Kuhns, Paul \Y. Kuhns, presi- 
dent of the Conservative Savings and Loan association, and 
John I lay Kuhns, who has been for some years a missionary in 
Japan and ( hina. 

Upon his return to Omaha, Dr. Kuhns from time to time 
supplied various pulpits of his denomination in this city and 
in the state. He traveled extensively and visited many lands, 
and because of his keen observations he lectured upon his 

travels most acceptably. 

Dr. Kuhns died in Omaha, September 1 ( >. 1899. The fun- 
eral services were held in the church he had established forty- 
one years before. Rev. S. B. Barnitz, I). I), secretary of the 
Board of Home Mission., and Rev. M. Rhodes, D I), presi- 



220 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



dent of the Board of Education of the General Synod, preach- 
ing the sermons. 

Dr. Kuhns was one of those pioneers who lived to see the 
once innumerable sunflowers, blooming in the continuous beds 
of the prairie, turned into great and fertile fields of abundant 
corn and grain; the well worn trail of ox teams, urged pain- 
fully forward, dotted with a few wooden cabins and sod 
houses, changed into great highways and railroads, convert- 
ing the frontier into the conditions of permanent settlement; 
and the rolling plains of Nebraska sparsely littered with the 
discoloration of human life transformed into an advanced and 
progressive civilization. He was one of the men who helped 
to bring this change about, and he lived to rejoice in the mar- 
velous development of the city and state he loved. 

Rev. Luther M. Kuhns 
enjoys the distinction of be- 
ing the first Lutheran min- 
ister born in Nebraska., and 
he was a pupil in the Oma- 
ha public schools. He was 
a student in the prepara- 
tory department of New- 
berry college, South Caro- 
lina during 1878-79. When 
his father moved from 
Newberry to Westminster, 
Maryland, he attended 
Western Maryland college 
where he remained until the 
end of his junior year in 
1880, and then entered 
Pennsylvania college at 

in 




Ilev. Luther 31. Kuhns 



Gettysburg, 



graduating 



He received the degree of A. 



1883 with the degree of A. B. 
M. from his alma mater in 1886, and in 1918, the degree of 
Litt. D., and the degree of D. D. in 1922 from Newberry 
college. He graduated from the theological seminary at 
Gettysburg in 1886. 

Rev. Luther M. Kuhns was licensed to preach by the 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 221 

Maryland synod in Baltimore in 1885. He was ordained to 
the ministry in 1886 by the Pittsburg synod at Millerstown, 
Pennsylvania. He was pastor at Freeport and Tarentum, 
known as the Freeport Charge, and at Braddock and Turtle 
Creek, known as the Braddock Charge, in 1886-87, under the 
board of home missions of the general synod. In 1887 he 
founded Grace Evangelical Lutheran church in Omaha, and 
continued as pastor of this congregation until February, 1903. 

For twelve years Rev. Mr. Kuhns was secretary of the 
traveling secretary committee, which is the missionary 
committee of the Lutheran synod of Nebraska. He was 
president of the Lutheran synod of Nebraska for the years 
1899-1902; a trustee of Midland college for three terms, and 
was influential in securing its removal from Atchison, Kansas 
to Fremont, Nebraska. He was twice a delegate to the general 
synod, and for some years he was a member of the beneficiary 
committee of the Nebraska synod, which assists young men 
in their education for the ministry. 

Rev. Mr. Kuhns was a member of the convention in the 
First Church, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, October 30-31, 1895, 
from the Nebraska synod, and participated in organizing the 
Luther League of America, and became a member of the execu- 
tive committee of the league. He is still a member of that 
committee, his term expiring in 1925. -From 1902 to 1916 
he was general secretary and in 1908-9 he carried the Luther 
League idea around the world to the Lutheran mission fields, 
and established these societies, having as their object the fos- 
tering and training of young people for church work, in Japan, 
China, and India. From 1895 to 1 ( H6 Dr. Kuhns was associ- 
ate editor of The Luther League Review; and from August, 
1916, to June, 1919, he was editor of both The Review and The 
Luther League Topics, official publications of the organization. 
lb- was the author of the Luther League I land Book. 

1 )r. Kuhns, who is a resident of ( tmaha, has been active 
in the world war and reconstruction and relief work of the 
Lutheran church. Me W2L3 a member of the first convention 
of the United Lutheran church in America, in \e\v York, in 
1918, having been a dele-ate from the Lutheran synod of tit 
braska to the general synod in Chicago in 1917, the last con- 



222 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

vention of that body prior to the merger into the United Luth- 
eran church. 

The Luther League is the federation of the young people's 
societies in all Lutheran congregations in America, irrespective 
of synodical connection, and The Lutheran Annual Encyclo- 
pedia for 1921, says: "Dr. L. M. Kuhns, for 25 years the 
general secretary of the Luther League of America, is more 
than any other man entitled to whatever credit there is for 
the Luther League movement, and its present day strength." 
Dr. Kuhns is recognized everywhere in the Lutheran church 
as an authority in this work. 

Dr. Kuhns is a member of the Trans-Mississippi His- 
torical society; Nebraska Academy of Science, and American 
Academy of Science. He was one of the charter members of 
the Nebraska Sons of the American Revolution, one of its past 
presidents, and was for a number of years its registrar, and w r as 
librarian of the Sons of Omaha. He is a charter member of 
the Lutheran Brotherhood in America, and is the author of 
various pamphlets and articles on religious subjects, contribu- 
ted to magazines and encyclopedias. Dr. Kuhns is a 33-degree 
Mason. He devotes most of his time to the Luther League, 
and supplies vacant pulpits, in connection with his literary 
studies. He is recognized as an authority on Lutheran history 
in Nebraska. 

The United Presbyterians appeared in the field in 1868. 
The late Rev. Thomas McCague, head of the well known Mc- 
Cague family, was the pioneer of this denomination. The 
Swedish Lutherans in 1868 organized a congregation. The 
First Christian church followed in the same year. 

And let us not overlook the Latter Day Saints, stragglers 
from the orthodox Mormon church, who had been left behind 
in the pilgrimage to Salt Lake. These Latter Day Saints got 
together occasionally between 1855 and 1868 and held services 
in Omaha. George Medlock, who was for some years the 
sexton of Prospect Hill cemetery, and grave digger for Gish 
& Jacobs, pioneer undertakers, was for some time a leader in 
this branch of the Mormon religion. These Mormons were 
non-polygamists, and numbered less than 100. Today, how- 
ever, they have four congregations in Omaha. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 223 

The first Christian Science church to be established in 
Omaha was organized on May 18, 1893, under the corporate 
name of First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Omaha, Nebraska. 
In 1923 Omaha has three churches of this denomination, First 
church being located at St. Mary's avenue and Twenty-fourth 
street ; Second Church at Davenport and Forty-first streets, and 
Third Church near Ames avenue and Twenty- fourth street. 
First Church occupies its own edifice; Second Church expects 
to soon complete its partly constructed building; and Third 
Church has voted to begin in 1923 the erection of its own build- 
ing on lots acquired at Fowler avenue and Twenty- fourth 
street. 

It is a noteworthy fact that Omaha now has one of the 
ten largest church buildings in the United States. It was erected 
by the Catholics and is named St. Cecilia's cathedral. It was 
begun in 1905, and will receive the finishing touches in the 
near future. The structure is 158 feet wide, 255 feet long, 
and 187 feet high. The architecture is Spanish renaissance. 
It has a capacity of 2,500 persons. This noble cathedral will 
cost $1,600,000. It has been occupied since 1917. 

Omaha may justly be called a city of churches. It now 
has over 155 congregations representing the various creeds. 



CHAPTER XXV 



HOTELS OF EARLY OMAHA 



STORY OF THE HERNDON DOUGLAS, WYOMING, METROPOLITAN 

AND OTHER PIONEER HOTELS GEORGE FRANCIS TRAIN AND 

THE COZZENS GRAND CENTRAL DESTROYED BY FIRE THE 

WITHNELL PAXTON MURRAY MILLARD. 

When Omaha was a mere village — only four years old — 
it had a hotel that would have been a credit to any metropolitan 
city in the United States in those days. This hotel was called 
the Herndon house and it was standing until 1922 when this 
ancient landmark was demolished to give room for a large 
modern business structure. It stood on the northeast corner 
of Far nam and Ninth streets, and had been doubled in size to 
make more room for the Union Pacific railway company's 
headquarters. The south half — the original hotel — was erect- 
ed by George Bridge, Dr. George L. Miller and Lyman Rich- 
ardson, who had accepted a proposition of the city that it would 
donate a site for a large hotel to any party who would carry 
out the enterprise for the smallest lot of land as a bonus. Bridge, 
Miller and Richardson were given a block and a half of city 
lots, all of which they sold except the two upon which they 
built the hotel, and the money thus acquired was expended 
hut was insufficient for its completion. They then borrowed 
$16',000 from the city in scrip. 

The hotel was named in honor of Lieutenant William 
Lewis Herndon of the United States navy, who lost his life 
while in command of the mail steamship Central America, 
which was storm-wrecked and sunk on its way from the isthmus 
of Panama to New York in LS57. In 1884 President Arthur 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



225 



= 



- 

= 
r 
c 



r 
= 



= 
- 

1 
= 

i 

-■ 
/ 

r 



■ 

IS 




226 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

requested the navy department to prepare lor him a complete 
history of Lieutenant Herndon, who was the father of the 
president's wife. It has been said that the conduct of Lieu- 
tenant Herndon was one of the most heroic incidents in Ameri- 
can naval annals. 

The Herndon was opened by Mr. Keith, and while he was 
landlord the house was conducted in elegant style and won a 
a high reputation throughout the country, proving a most valu- 
able advertisement for the town. It certainly was an ambitious 
enterprise for those frontier days. It was the scene of many 
brilliant social gatherings and was headquarters for politicians 
and public assemblies. Its location was then the business cen- 
ter of the city. The Herndon gradually deteriorated after it 
passed out of the hands of Mr. Keith. 

In 1859 the Herndon was conducted for a brief period by 
Lyman Richardson and H. M. Judson, under the firm name of 
Richardson & Judson, the latter having been one of the land- 
lords of the Hamilton. H. T. R. Judson — a son of H. M. Jud- 
son — is superintendent of the Omaha branch of the Pittsburg 
Plate Glass company. 

After changing proprietors several times the Herndon 
was taken in charge by the sheriff. The law's custodianship 
of the property was due to the failure of the promoters to come 
across with the balance that they owed for its construction. 
\\ hile in possession of the sheriff the Herndon was conducted 
for a time by James T. Allan. It was in Allan's administration 
that an incident occurred which angered George Francis Train 
and caused him to build the Cozzens house. The story has 
often been told in various ways. But the most interesting 
version is related by Train himself. Here it is: 

"When I went out to Omaha there was only one real hotel 
in that town. This was the Herndon, a respectable affair. I 
was astonished that men of energy, enterprise and means had 
not seized the opportunity to erect a large hotel at this point, 
which had already given promise of rapid and immediate 
growth. But what directly suggested to me the building of 
such a hotel on my own account was a little incident at a break- 
fast that T happened to be giving. I had invited a number of 
prominent men — representatives in congress, and others — as 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



227 



I desired to present to them some of my plans. The breakfast 
was a characteristic western meal, with prairie chicken and 
Nebraska trout. While we were seated one of those sudden 
and always unexpected cyclones on the plains came up. Our 
table was very near a window in which were large panes of 
glass which I feared could not withstand the tremendous force 
of the wind. I called to a negro waiter to stand with his broad 
back against the window. This proved a security against the 
storm; but it precipitated a storm within. 

"/Mian, manager of the Ilerndon — and a man with a po- 
litical turn of mind — saw in the incident an assault on the 
rights of the negroes. He hurried over to the table and pro- 
tested against this act as an outrage. I could not afford to 
enter into any quarrel with him at the time, so I merely said : 
T am about the size of the negro; I will take his place.' I then 
ordered the fellow away from the window, took his post, and 
stayed there until the fury of the storm abated. Then I was 
ready for Allan. 

"I walked out in front of the house and, pointing to a 
large vacant square facing it, I asked who owned it. I was 
told the owner's name and immediately sent a messenger for 
him. lb- SOOI1 arrived and I asked his price. It was $5,000. I 
wrote out and handed him a check for the amount, and took 
from him, on the spot, a deed for the property. 




In- « «>//»iiN Imlrl, luiili In sl\l\ <lii>«. Iin <>i<l< i nf ( I inn. i- I mil 



228 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

"Then I asked for a contractor who could build a hotel. 
A man named Richmond was brought to me. 'Can you build 
a three-story hotel in sixty days on this lot?' asked I. After 
some hesitation he said it would be merely a question of money. 
'How much?' I asked. 'One thousand dollars a day,' he replied. 
'Show me that you are worth $60,000,' I demanded. He did 
so, and I took out an envelope and sketched on the back of it 
a rough plan of the hotel. T am going to the mountains,' I 
said, 'and I shall want this hotel, with 120 rooms, complete, 
when I return in sixty days.' 

"When I got back the hotel was finished. I immediately 
rented it to Cozzens of West Point, New York, for $10,000 a 
year. The Cozzens was more written about than almost any 
other hotel ever built in the United States. It was the show 
place of Omaha." 

The successor to Mr. Allan in the management of the 
Herndon was Mrs. Bronson, she having leased it from Dr. 
Monell, who had acquired the property. Dr. Monell was a 
brother-in-law of the late Senator P. W. Hitchcock, father of 
Senator Gilbert M. Hitchcock. In 1870 the Union Pacific 
leased the building for its headquarters, moving its office from 
the state house, just opposite, on Ninth street, and in 1875 the 
company purchased the property for $42,000, and in 1884 en- 
larged the structure and remodeled it in many ways, entirely 
changing its appearance. At one time, for a brief period, the 
Herndon was called the International. 

There were other hotels — so called — in Omaha prior to 
the erection of the Herndon. They were mere shacks. It has 
been claimed that the first hotel was the St. Nicholas, the first 
structure of any kind on the site of Omaha. The location was 
at Twelfth and Jackson streets. It was erected by the ferry 
company and was used as a boarding house for its employees. 
It was commonly known as the "Claim House," and was con- 
ducted during the summer of 1854 by the late Mr. and Mrs. 
William P. Snowden, the first permanent residents. 

The Douglas was really the first Omaha hotel, a two-story 
frame structure at the southwest corner of Harney and Thir- 
teenth streets. It was begun in the fall of 1854 by David Lind- 
ley and was not fully completed until early in 1855. Mean- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 229 

time, however, it was opened in an unfinished condition by 
Wells brothers in November, owing to the demand for accom- 
modations. The dining room had no floor ; the table was con- 
structed by driving stakes into the ground and using cotton- 
wood boards for the top; the sides of the room were partly 
open and often the table would be covered with drifted snow 
while the boarders were seated at meals, the viands freezing 
before they could be eaten. The beds were sheeting ticks stuffed 
with prairie grass which would roll into knots, the sleeper be- 
ing obliged to conform to the irregularities to be at ease. When 
the house had been put into comfortable condition it was pur- 
chased by T. G. Goodwill, who came here from Xew York in 
the fall of 1854 and bought the Big 6 saloon — a dugout — from 
William Clancy. Under the new management the Douglas 
soon became the best hotel in the territory. It was headquar- 
ters for politicians, speculators and land-grabbers. The seward 
was Ignace Scherb, who in laters years became a prosperous 
citizen and built a brick block on North Sixteenth street and 
gave it his name. 

The Fourth of July, 1855, was celebrated with great en- 
thusiasm at the Douglas. There was a regular program of 
exercises, one of the speakers being Thomas B. Cuming, terri- 
torial secretary. There was also a barbecue in charge of Mr. 
Scherb. Of course the festivities concluded with a ball. 

In 1856 the Douglas passed into the possession of George 
M. Mills, who came here from Michigan with $1,700 capital 
The first year he cleaned up $17,000, which was the foundation 
of bis fortune. Mr. Mills built two brick mansions on Eight- 
eenth street between Capitol avenue and DavenpOli street 

One was for his own family and the other for the family of 

his son-in-law. Josiah S. McCormick, whose nickname was 

Dick, father of Mrs. Arthur Remington and Harry McCor 
inick. The Mills mansion was purchased 1>\ the late George 
\V. Lininger, who improved it in various ways and added a 
gallery for the housing of the Lininger art collection. Tins 
hou now occupied by Mrs Lininger. 

Xext in order is the City hotel, erected in 1856 by Ed 

Burdell al the outhwe I corner of Harney and Eleventh 

streets. At th.it time it was generall} thought that Harney 



230 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

would be the leading thoroughfare. The City hotel was a 
small one-story frame building. It was the scene of the first 
executive ball given in honor of Governor Izard, successor of 
Governor Burt. This hotel, upon ceasing to be a public house, 
was for a time occupied as a residence by the late Ezra Mil- 
lard, who became the owner of the property, upon which in 
after years he erected a four-story brick structure, now occu- 
pied by the Kirkendall shoe factory. 

To meet the demand of the growing town the Hamilton 
house was built in 1856 on the lot corresponding to No. 1409 
Douglas street. It was financed by C. W. Hamilton and Alon- 
zo F. Salisbury. Mr. Hamilton became a well known banker 
a member of the firm of Caldwell, Hamilton & Co., which 
eventually became the United States National. The house 
was leased by O. C. Burnham and H. M. Judson and was soon 
"running full." It was the scene of many a hilarious gather- 
ing at which champagne "flowed as freely as water," or nearly 
so. It was considered an insult to refuse an invitation to 
drink. 

"We landed in Omaha late one night in 1857," said an 
old settler, ''and going to the Hamilton, a small two-story brick, 
with the office adjoining in a frame building, we — my father 
and I — were assigned to room 26. Going upstairs, we were 
shown into a large room with about a dozen beds in it. At the 
foot of one bed, to which we were escorted, was marked in a 
chalk ring on the floor 'Room 26,' and we tried to make our- 
selves as comfortable as the occupants of the neighboring 
'room.' " 

This building, for a long period occupied by Little & 
Williams as a grocery store, was torn down in 1886 to make 
room for a three-story structure, which for years housed the 
Budweiser saloon and a gambling hall. 

The Metropolitan, built in 1868, was for many years a 
popular and well-managed hotel. Among the various landlords 
of this house the early inhabitants will remember Colonel Par- 
ker, D. A. Van Namee, Ira Wilson, M. H. Brown and George 
A. Josyln. The Metropolitan was torn down in 1919 and in its 
place an eight-story cold storage plant has been reared. 

In 1871 in addition to the Metropolitan there were the 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 231 

Cozzens, State and the Wyoming. These three houses were 
in a row on the east side of Ninth street, between Farnam and 
Howard. The Wyoming was built by Dr. Isaac Edwards in 
1867 and was named the Edwards. The cost of erection was 
$21,000. The building was shipped from Chicago in knock- 
down shape and ready to put up. Its first landlord was Mr. 
Godfrey, who afterwards platted Godfrey's addition. Suc- 
ceeding Godfrey in the management of the Edwards were 
Messrs. Davis and Nicholas, who were drowned in the John- 
ston (Pennsylvania) flood in 1889. The name of the Edwards 
was changed in 1869 to the Casement in honor of the Case- 
ment brothers, who played a very important part in the con- 
struction of the Union Pacific track. 

It was about this time that J. C. Higby, who had con- 
ducted the Farnam since 1864, took over the Casement, the 
name being changed to the Wyoming soon after the transfer 
of the house. Mr. Higby was the father of Ira P. and Beecher 
Higby. The next proprietor — whose name is forgotten — at- 
tempted to conduct the hotel as a strictly temperance house, 
but failed in his laudable effort in a few months. A. S. Pad- 
dock, who became United States senator, was the Wyoming 
landlord for about a year, and his clerk, Harry Gilmore, suc- 
ceeded him, having Ira I'. Higby as his associate in the busi- 
ness. 

In 1879 the Wyoming passed into the hands of George 
Canfield, who was a Nebraska pioneer. He first located 
in the Elkhorn valley, near West Point, in 1865, and in 1866 
opened the first eating house on the line of the Union Pacific 
at North Bend. Sixteen months later be took charge of the 
company's second eating house at Grand Island. He then en- 
gaged in the hotel business at Wesl Point and Wisner. Coming 
to Omaha in 1X76 he leased the St. Charles, and at the end 
of three years he secured possession of the Wyoming, naming 
it the ( anlield, over which he presided for eight ' -I" nine years. 
It then passed from landlord to landlord with varying success. 
George ('anlield was the father of Sherman ('anlield. n<>w a 
resident of Sheridan. Wyoming, where f< »r several years Sher- 
man conducted the Sheridan Inn. and later \v;h appointed 

postmaster. 



232 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

The Canfield hotel property eventually came into pos- 
session of the late S. 11. 11. Clark, then president of the Union 
Pacific, who bought it with a view of utilizing the ground for 
a union depot. He paid $12,000 for it. 

The Cozzens in 1867 was taken over by Philo Rum- 
sey, under whose management it continued until late in the fall 
of 1871. It then stood vacant until 1883, when J. D. Her and 
James G. Chapman bought the property and put it in good 
condition. Mr. Rumsey, who was interested in several rail- 
road eating houses, returned to the Cozzens, but it proving a 
losing venture he soon withdrew. The Wyoming, the State 
and the Cozzens have given way to lofty wholesale houses. 

A few years ago the late General Manderson handed me 
a couple of old letters, saying that they might prove useful at 
some future time. One was dated March 13, 1901, and was 
from C. F. Ackerman of New York city, in response to a re- 
quest to obtain an account of a friend's experience in the Coz- 
zens hotel. Air. Ackerman's friend wrote for him the full story, 
which is a thriller, as follows : 

My Dear Ackerman : It is a great many years ago since 
I was in Omaha. It was. then very much on the border. This 
was in the spring of 1869. It was then just when the Union 
Pacific had come through to connect with the Iowa roads. We 
reached Omaha over the Chicago & Northwestern. Among 
the passengers in our car w r as the French ambassador, Baron 
Baudice Boileau, going to the Pacific coast, who caused his 
valet to sit up all night to wake him when we crossed the Mis- 
souri. We got into Omaha on a Saturday. Rain was falling 
in bncketfuls. When the stage got up the hill to the Cozzens 
hotel I volunteered to go to the post office to get the baron's 
mail as well as my own. Walking along the plank sidewalk 
in front of the hotel, I reached the end to find a canal almost, 
and stepping on what I took to be a plank I landed waist deep 
in mud and water. However, I managed to go to the post 
office all the same. Having but one suit of clothes I paid the 
penalty. I had to dry and clean my trousers before going to 
dinner. Meantime I had to remain in my room clad only in 
my underwear. The baron in recognition of my services 
braced me with some champagne. Omaha was a terror in 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 233 

those days. After the storm all was motion. Saturday night 
the town was alive with open carriages occupied by questionable 
women — the gamblers urging you to go into their shanties and 
take a hand — the stray Indian with a squaw and papoose beg- 
ging for money and drink — these and other sights interested me 
extremely. But the worst was to come. 

About 2 o'clock in the morning I was awakened by loud 
curses, the clinking of glasses, shouts and hurrahs, and finally 
bullets coming through my door panels and making their exit 
through the window, smashing the glass. I hugged the wall 
pretty close, as my bed was almost in line of the shots. So it 
went on in the hotel until daybreak. When I demanded an 
explanation at the office I was told the racket was caused by a 
party of gamblers who had been drinking and had killed the 
editor of a paper, and were running the hotel to suit them- 
selves. I think the editor's name was Miller. The clerk said 
the only hope to quiet the boisterous gamblers was to get them 
so drunk that they would be harmless. Meanwhile they had 
been shooting at a hat held by a darkey hall-boy in fear of his 
life. 

These incidents, with cigars at $1 apiece, make up my ex- 
perience in Omaha in 1869. Xow ( 19CH ) we do a nice busi- 
ness there. DEWITT C. WELD. 

The memory of "the oldest inhabitant" fails to recall the 
Coz/.en> hotel incident, and it is quite evident that the hotel 
clerk amused himself by "stringing" an eastern tenderfoot. 

Among tin- other early hotels were the St. Charles, the 
Parnam, later called the Donovan, the Creighton, Tremont, 

Atlantic, Motel de GrOOS, named after the builder, Peter ( i« »< «, 
and in later years known as the Thurston, in honor of the late 
United States Senator Thurston, the Doran, the Arcade, <>p- 
posite the Millard, and the Planters. 

The Tremont, which was located on the south side of 

Dot! treet, between Thirteenth and Fourteenth, middle of 

the block, where later the Academy of Music was built, was 
conducted by \V. F. Sweesy, who erected the Brunswick, now 
;i part of the Rome hotel. The name of the Farnam, built by 
\V. \ Gwyer in 1858, was changed t<» the Donovan when M. 
Donovan took charge Mr, Donovan's next venture was the 



3EE LIBRARY 



234 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Creighton at Thirteenth and Capitol avenue. The Atlantic, a 
three-story frame at the northwest corner of Tenth and How- 
ard streets, was for many years managed by Mr. Haserodt. He 
was succeeded by Air. Schraack, who in 1880 turned the house 
over to John I. Paynter, an Omaha pioneer. The Howard hotel 
now covers the site formerly occupied by the Atlantic. 

in 1870 the project of organizing a stock company to 
build a creditable hotel was agitated and a corporation for that 
purpose was soon formed, one of the conditions being that the 
enterprise was to be popularized by making $1,000 the limit of 
individual subscriptions. The total cost was to be $150,000, 
and it was at first determined not to begin construction until 
this amount was fully subscribed. But when the subscriptions 
footed up $130,000 the leading promoters decided to proceed 
with the work. The walls were erected and the roof was put 
on when, in 1871, a halt was called owing to shortage of funds. 
Nothing more was done for two years. It was then that five 
men — Edward Creighton, Thomas Wardell, A. J. Poppleton, 
Augustus Kountze and Henry W. Yates — raised $50,000, and 
it seemed likely that the much desired hotel w T ould soon be 
completed. Again the money on hand was found insufficient, 
and an additional sum was needed. A syndicate was now 
formed, composed of S. S. Caldwell, Charles W. Hamilton, 
E. D. Pratt, Joseph Barker, Sylvester Wright, John I. Redick 
and Clinton Briggs, who bought the majority of the original 
stock at from 10 to 50 cents on the dollar. After thus secur- 
ing the controlling interest a new election of stockholders was 
held and the amount necessary to finish the edifice, which 
cost $300,000, was put in the treasury. The hotel was located 
on the corner now occupied by the Paxton, and was opened 
October 1, 1873, by George Thrall, who had come from Mo- 
bile, where he had conducted a first class house for several 
years. Mr. Thrall furnished the hotel himself. It was chris- 
tened the Grand Central after a long and bitter controversy 
over what name should be given to it. 

Some advocated "Pullman hotel," but most strenuous ob- 
jection being raised, this name was eliminated from the con- 
test. Among other suggestions were "Astor," "George Francis 
Train," "Credit Mobilier," "National Humbug Barnum," 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



235 




236 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

"Union Pacific," "Bennett," "Helmbold," "Occidental," 
"Creighton," "Poppleton," "Herald," "Miller," all being re- 
jected, along with "Hash House," which some wag had pro- 
posed. Dr. Miller claimed that through the medium of his 
Herald newspaper he was the man who originated the enter- 
prise, but some of the old settlers have told me time and time 
again that Charles H. Dewey was entitled to the credit of first 
"shouting" for a hotel that Omaha would be proud of. S. S. 
Caldwell was the man, more than any other, who put the final 
push into the undertaking and brought it to a happy termina- 
tion. 

In the summer of 1878 the Kitchen Hotel company, com- 
posed of the Kitchen brothers — Charles W., James B. and 
Richard — bought Mr. Thrall's interest in the Grand Central 
and remodeled it throughout. The work was nearly completed 
when the building caught fire from a plumber's blowpipe in 
the fourth story early in the evening of September 4, 1878, 
and was entirely destroyed. Five firemen lost their lives, 
being killed by falling walls. They were John A. Lee, Alonzo 
D. Randall, Lewis Wilson, William McNamara and Henry 
Lockfeldt. 

At the time the military headquarters building, erected in 
1870 by John Withnell, had been vacated by the chief officers 
of the military department of the Platte, and the Kitchen com- 
pany at once leased it and put in the furniture that had been 
purchased for the Grand Central. This hotel was named the 
Withnell. The site is now occupied by the Orpheum theater 
building. In 1882 the Kitchens completed the Paxton on the 
corner formerly covered by the Grand Central, they having 
purchased the ground. William A. Paxton gave the Kitchens 
$5,000 in consideration of adding a fifth story to the structure 
and naming the hotel in his honor. 

Just across the alley from the Grand Central was a two- 
story frame shack, owned and operated by Tom Murray as a 
curiosity shop and junk house. It was said that anything from 
a safety pin to a coffin could be obtained at Murray's place. 

A wager was once made that a ship's anchor could not be 
found in Murray's collection. But Tom had one sure enough. 

This old frame was not touched bv the fierce flames of the 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



237 












c - 



T* 



— i 



-2 



.3 

— • 

- - 
- 

— 




238 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Grand Central. Murray soon after tore it down and began 
the erection of the Murray hotel, which he completed in three 
or four years. He was stopped at the sixth story by the city 
authorities, who were afraid that if built any higher the walls 
would not stand. Today the Murray, now owned by the Kitch- 
ens and used as an annex to the Paxton, is one of the best 
constructed buildings in Omaha. Poor old Tom. Murray! A 
miser he was all his life, and when he took a start skyward 
with his hotel his fortune began to dwindle, and eventually 
he lost it all. 

Ben Silloway leased the Murray, and after managing it 
for two or three years turned it back to the owner, who was 
not a success as a hotel man. Eventually Nat Brown, who 
had been conducting the Merchants hotel, obtained possession 
of the property, finally becoming the owner. After his death 
Mrs. Brown sold the hotel to the Kitchens, and a closed bridge 
was built over the alley, connecting the two buildings. 

The Kitchens were a hotel family. Charles managed sev- 
eral western railroad eating houses and hotels; Richard was 
manager of the Paxton; James, who died a few years ago, 
operated in St. Joseph, Missouri, and later came to Omaha, 
taking hold of the Paxton upon Richard's death. Four gen- 
erations of hotel people are represented in the Paxton hotel. 
Charles W. Kitchen was the father of Ralph Kitchen, whose 
son, Richard, is the present owner and manager. 

The Millard hotel was opened in 1882 soon after the 
Paxton. It was built by the Millard stock company, the offi- 
cers of which were Joseph H. Millard, president; Jacob E. 
Markel, vice president; Samuel Shears, secretary, and Thomas 
Swobe, treasurer. In its day it was considered a first class 
house and a credit to the city. 

The Arrow, the first paper dated at Omaha, but printed 
in Council Bluffs, contains this item in its issue of November 
10, 1854: 

"The Fontenelle is the name of the large and beautiful 
brick hotel now in process of erection at this place. It is ap- 
propriately named after the chief of the Omaha Indian tribe, 
whose hunting grounds, by purchase on the part of the United 
States, we now occupy, and after whose tribe this prosperous 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 239 

town is named." This item proves that the swell Fontenelle of 
today is not the first Omaha hotel to bear the name of the chief 
of the Omahas. George Barker, who came to Omaha in 1854 
and is still holding on to his claims, more or less, says he 
cannot remember that any Fontenelle hotel was built in the 
town in the early days. Such a hotel might have been contem- 
plated in 1854, but he is positive that it never was erected 
under the name of the Fontenelle. All the hotels of the first 
few years of Omaha were mere shacks, except the Herndon. 

In 1879 the late George Augustus Sala, the famous cor- 
respondent of The London Telegraph, spent a day in Omaha on 
his way to the Pacific coast. His impression of Omaha at that 
time was very unfavorable. Here is what he says in his Life 
and Adventures : "We 'detrained,' as the French say, at 
Omaha, which was an insignificant town, with a few thousand 
inhabitants and w r ith only one habitable hotel — the Planters 
house." 

It will be remembered that the Grand Central was de- 
stroyed by fire in the previous year. The Planters house, a 
homely frame structure, was located at the northwest corner of 
Sixteenth and Dodge streets, its site being now occupied by the 
south end of the post office building-. For many years it was 
conducted by Mr. and Mrs. Morrison, the latter being a sister 
of the late Mrs. Alfred R. Dufrene. 

The Marker hotel, Thirteenth and Jones streets, was 
erected in the early '80s by George Barker, and was for many 
years the popular headquarters for theatrical troupes, news- 
paper men. and commercial travelers. The building is now 
used as a warehouse. Another hotel that was built about the 
same time is the Dellone by Fred Dellone. It is a large and 
substantial structure, and is now called the Jefferson hotel. It 
is under the management of Herman Metz. 



CHAPTER XXVI 



EARLY AMUSEMENTS 



FIRST THEATRICAL ENTERTAINMENT JULIA DEAN HAYNE 

COURTHOUSE USED FOR SHOWS JOHN TEMPLETON's COM- 
PANY ACADEMY OF MUSIC HENRY M. STANLEY AND ANNIE 

WARD PROMINENT ACTORS REDICK's OPERA HOUSE 

BOYD'S OPERA HOUSE GRAND OPERA HOUSE OTHER PLACES 

OF AMUSEMENT. 

The first theatrical performance ever witnessed in Omaha 
was given in the dining room of the Herndon house in the 
summer of 1860. In speaking of this entertainment the late 
Byron Reed said : "I have forgotten the names of all the mem- 
bers of the company except that of Julia Dean Hayne. I don't 
think the company was out on a professional tour, as it had no 
scenery. I remember that a bolt of muslin was borrowed from 
Tootle & Jackson's store to be made into curtains. I cannot 
now recall the name of the play." 

Julia Dean Hayne, the leading woman in the play, was 
an eminent actress in her day. One of her half-sisters, Annie 
Dean, married Colonel John Y. Clopper and resided in Omaha 
for several years after the war of the rebellion. Colonel Clop- 
per was one of the promoters and owners of the Academy of 
Music which figured prominently in the theatrical amusements 
of Omaha in the early days. His associates in the enterprise 
were John I. Redick and S. S. Caldwell, after whom Caldwell 
block was named. Colonel Clopper died in Denver in 1884, 
and the death of Mrs. Clopper occurred in that city in the 
spring of 1887. Her death was a most singular ending. Two 
weeks before she passed away she had a dream in which she 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 241 

saw her body in a coffin, and she observed the dress in which 
she was clothed, the manner in which her hair was arranged, 
and the ornaments in her collar. All efforts on the part of her 
friends to laugh away the unpleasant memory were unavailing. 
She believed that the hour of her death was near at hand and 
she earnestly requested that when she died she should be 
clothed just as she had appeared to herself in the coffin. In 
compliance with her wish the corpse was dressed for burial in 
every detail, as had been shown in the fatal dream. Mrs. Clop- 
per was a very beautiful woman and moved in the best circles 
of Omaha society. 

Many years ago the writer was told by a pioneer that the 
first regular place of theatrical entertainments was the old 
courthouse, northeast corner of Farnam and Sixteenth streets, 
and the first play presented there was "The Chamber of Death," 
by John Templeton's traveling company. Twenty years later 
John Templeton, with his opera company, opened Boyd's opera 
house, northeast corner of Farnam and Fifteenth, with "The 
Mascot," in which his daughter, Fay, was the prima donna. 
The courthouse continued to be used as an occasional theater 
until the opening of Potter's theater, in 1865, in the second 
story of the building now occupied by the Palace Clothing 
company, southeast corner of Douglas and Fourteenth streets. 
Potter, who was an experienced manager, had an excellent 
stock company, and produced such plays as "The Lady of 
Lyons," "Under the Willow Copse," "Pocahontas," "Road to 
Ruin," "School for Scandal," etc. Among the prominent actors 
who appeared at Potter's theater were C. W. Couldock, and 
Mrs. Selden Irwin and Harry Rainforth. 

In the winter of 1866-67 the Academy of Music, located 
in the center of Caldwell block, was opened under the man- 
agement ot" Henry Corn', a veteran theatrical man. It was a 
somewhat pretentious theater for those days, and caused the 
retirement of Potter from the local field. Corri had been Ben 

DeBar's manager in St. Louis for many years, and for the 
Academy of Music he organized one of the besl stock com- 
panies in the I faited Suite-. ( tanaha was then a busy town and 
full of transients attracted here by the building of the Union 
Pacific. At every performance the Academy was crowded. 



242 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Standard plays were produced in a most finished manner and 
met with great success throughout the entire season. Corn's 
company included J. F. Noyes, first leading man ; Henry Mor- 
land, first heavy man ; Annie Ward, soubrette ; W. Watkins, 
first juvenile; Jean Clara Walters, leading lady; and Mrs. 
Clementine DeBar, mother of Blanche DeBar and sister of 
Ben DeBar. Frank Weston was property man. He became 
an excellent actor and leading man for Effie Ellsler, whom 
he married. During the opening season quite a number of 
stars played at the Academy, among them being Edwin Adams, 
Chanfrau, Couldock, Mrs. Bowers, Jean Hosmer, Leo Hud- 
son and Fannie Price. There was a star engagement almost 
every week. 

During the third season Milton Nobles played juvenile 
parts in the stock company. John A. Stevens was leading man, 
and Mrs. Stevens — Lottie Church — was a soubrette. Soon 
after this season the Academy was closed as a stock theater 
and was included in the Western Star circuit, organized by 
Stevens. 

Among the stars who played in this circuit were Forrest, 
Mrs. Bow r ers, Stuart Robson, Chanfrau, Lotta, Booth, Band- 
man, and others of equal prominence. Stevens eventually be- 
came financially embarrassed, and leaving the Academy, ow- 
ing to trouble with the owners, opened Redick's opera house, 
a wooden building which had recently been erected at the north- 
west corner of Farnam and Sixteenth. Stevens' Western 
Star circuit soon after collapsed. 

While Henry M. Stanley was in Omaha during the year 
1867 as correspondent of The Xew York Herald, to which he 
contributed many a wild and woolly story of the west, he fell 
in love with Annie Ward of the Corri stock company. "Little 
Mac" (MacDonagh), editor of a weekly newspaper, made 
sport of his love affair and as a result he was assaulted by 
Stanley, who was tried for the offense in a justice court 
and was acquitted on the ground of justifiable cause. John C. 
Cowin, who had just begun practicing law, defended Stanley 
and charged him a fee of $2. The bill was never paid. Annie 
Ward finally gave Stanley the cold shake. But Stanley sur- 
vived and Annie Ward a few vears later committed suicide in 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



243 




St. Louis. Stanley, it will be 
remembered, was summoned 
from Omaha by James Gor- 
don Bennett to go to Abyssinia 
in 1868, and he made his 
mark by sending to The New 
York Herald the first report 
of the storming of Magdala 
and the death of King Theo- 
dore, who killed himself when 
he saw that the British were 
going to be victorious. The 
finding of the lost Livingstone 
and his African explorations 
are events in the career of 
Stanley that make his name 
ever memorable. 

A different version of the 
Stanley- W a r d-MacDonagh 
episode is given by N. S. Bel- 
den, a pioneer printer now re- 
siding in Santa Rosa, California. He claims that Stanley was 
not in love with Annie Ward but that it was MacDonagh who 
was stage struck with the fair actress. ''MacDonagh had a 
chance through The Herald local columns to show Annie 
some attention," says Mr. Belden, "and Stanley, through per- 
mission of Mr. Bird, editor of The Republican, wrote squibs 
in that paper ridiculing 'Little Mac.' Stanley greatly enjoyed 
tl 1 i -> privilege. ( )ne morning I met Stanley who called my atten- 
tion to a paragraph in The Republican that he seemed to think 
was rather cunning. MacDonagh, who knew who was the 
author of the pokes at him, told me that if Stanley did not 
cease his attacks he would drive him out of town. Stanley, 
Upon my informing him of this threat, flew into a rage. We 
went out into the street and met MacDonagh. A light im- 
mediately ensued, neither being hurt in the least. They were 
arrested and brought before Mayor Charles II. Brown, who 

was also police judge. 1 was the only star witness. M y evi- 
dence ^< » burlesqued the affair that Mayor Brown dismissed 



Henry M. Stanley, 
he appeared while living in 
Omaha in 1.NU7. 



244 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



the case, and the audience, composed of prominent citizens, 
joined the mayor in a big laugh." 

The Academy of Music 
continued to be the only 
theater, under various man- 
agers, until the opening of 
Boyd's opera house, which 
was built in 1881 at the 
northeast corner of Farnam 
and Fifteenth streets, its 
site now being occupied by 
the Nebraska Clothing com- 
pany's store. The open- 
ing night, October 24th, was 
a swell event. Soon after 
the dropping of the curtain 
on the first act of "The 
Mascot" General Mander- 
son addressed the audience, 
congratulating the people 
upon the completion and 
opening of the beautiful 
temple of amusement and at 
the same time compliment- 
ing Mr. Boyd on his public spirit and enterprise. Resolutions 
complimentary to Mr. Boyd were introduced and were seconded 
by Hon. Fzra Millard, and were unanimously adopted. In 
response to calls for a speech Mr. Boyd in the course of his 
remarks said: "If you will look over the programme for this 
evening's entertainment you will not see my name as one of 
the performers, and I am sure you did not come here to listen 
to me, but Shakespeare says 'the world's a stage and all the 
men and women merely players.' My part of the performance 
has been the erection of this building. * * * How well I 
have performed my part is not for me to say, but for you and 
the public to decide." 

In May, 1888, L. M. Crawford, a theatrical manager of 
Topeka, leased the west half of the Exposition building, north- 




Jnmes E. Boyd, 
was a member of first state legis- 
lature, member of eonstitutional 
eon \ fin ion, mayor of Omaha, au<l 
governor of the state. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



245 



east corner of Fifteenth street and Capitol avenue, which had 
been converted into a theater. It was named the Grand opera 
house. The Exposition building had been erected in 1885-86 
by an enterprising stock company, organized by Max 
Meyer, F. W. Gray, William Wallace, John A. McShane, 
J. A. Wakefield, C. E. Squires, I. W. Miner, B. F. Smith and 
Louis Mendelssohn. It was 120 feet wide and 264 feet long. 
It was opened in February, 1886, with an orchestra of sixty 
pieces and the attendance was estimated at 5,000. In the fall 
of the same year the Exposition company built an addition of 




m 

lio.xI'M «>|MTii house, linill in I *>M . iiikI ilt'Nlrojcil b> fire in IN1KI 

120 feet on Fourteenth street and 66 feet on Davenport street, 

and in the main Structure and annex a very successful exposi- 
tion Was held. 

In June a musical festival was a big attraction in the 
auditorium under the management of C D Hess of Chicago 
The building served the same purposes for winch the present 
Municipal auditorium was erected. All sorts oi entertain- 



246 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 







x 

o 
- 

- 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 247 

ments were given in it, and it was used also for the holding of 
all kinds of conventions. Sullivan and other boxers gave ex- 
hibitions there. High wheel bicycle races, under the manage- 
ment of Jack Prince, drew large crowds and excited great 
interest. Patti sang there and was compensated by receipts 
amounting to $11,000. It was there that Sam Jones, the famous 
evangelist, conducted a memorable religious revival. 

In 1887 the annex was leased for three years by the city 
for a city council chamber, police court, police station and city 
offices. In February, 1891, the building passed into the pos- 
session of A. J. Poppleton, from whom the ground had been 
leased. 

Later in the same year Crawford leased Boyd's opera 
house from the American Loan & Trust company, of which O. 
M. Carter was president, this corporation having purchased the 
property. Crawford intended to conduct the opera house un- 
der its old name, but was enjoined from using the name of 
Boyd who was then erecting a new theater at Harney and 
Seventeenth. Thereupon Crawford changed the name to Far- 
nam street theater and put it under the management of W. J. 
Burgess, who had become associated with him in business. 
This opera house was destroyed by fire in 1893. Crawford 
and Burgess then returned to the Grand opera house and 
changed its name to Fifteenth street theater. Two years 
later this building also went up in flames. This was the third 
lire that had occurred in the theatrical career of Mr. Burgess. 
In 1889 the Walker theater in Salt Lake City, of which he 

'.'. as the manager, was burned. 

The next mme of Crawford and Burgess was to the old 
Academy ol" Music, which they called the Empire, and there 

finished the season. Burgess now formed a partnership with 
Billy Paxton, which resulted in the erection of the Creighton, 
now the Orpheum. This partnership continued three years. 

Meantime Mr. Boyd had built his new theater, and after it had 

been conducted two years by Tom Boyd and I). \\\ Haynes it 
1 t<» Burgess, who retained his interest in the Creigh- 
ton and continued t«> manage it in conjunction with the Boyd 

until it was gold t<< the ( h'pheum company. The Boyd theater 
was taken over in 1909 bv the ShubertS as a link in their chain 



248 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

of playhouses. Burgess, who had entered into a partnership 
with O. D. Woodard, induced the Brandeis interests to build 
a house for them, and as a result the Brandeis theater was 
completed in February, 1910. At the end of two years they 
sold their lease. In 1908 Burgess and Woodard had built the 
Burwood — now the Gayety — for their stock company. For 
several years the Gayety has been devoted to comedy and 
burlesque under the management of E. L. Johnson. W. J. 
Burgess died in March, 1923. The Boyd theater is now a thing 
of the past, having been torn down to make room for an addi- 
tion to the Burgess-Nash company's store. 

It was Jack Prince, the bicycle race promoter, who was 
responsible for the erection of the Coliseum, now the property 
and camping ground of the famous Omaha boosters, the 
Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben. Besides being used for races, this 
building was the scene of some brilliant musical events, two 
industrial expositions, several conventions, one of which was 
the Peoples' Party convention which nominated General 
Weaver of Iowa for president and General Field of Virginia 
for vice-president. 

The Eden Musee was opened in Creighton hall, north- 
west corner of Farnam and Eleventh streets, in 1887, by Wil- 
liam Lawler and J. E. Sackett. It was a place of entertain- 
ment principally for juveniles and did a large business. Sackett, 
who was a circus man of varied experience, at the end of two 
years withdrew, and going to Denver established an Eden 
Musee in that city, one of his principal attractions being "the 
ossified man" with a hollow graveyard voice. Lawler con- 
tinued the business alone, and when the Creighton hall build- 
ing was burned down he leased the Grand opera house. Lawler 
recently died in Omaha a few years ago. 

Simpson's hall, southwest corner of Fourteenth and 
Dodge, was for many years a popular place of amusements, 
such as theatricals, concerts, receptions and dances. It was in 
this hall that Ole Bull, the world-famous violinist, gave his 
concert. It was there that the "Pleasant Hours" and "Social 
Hours" clubs held their dancing parties. 

One of the many troupes that visited Omaha in the late 
70s was the famous Lydia Thompson's British Blondes, who 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



249 



"traveled on their shape," as 
the saying goes. One of these 
beautiful blondes was Edith 
Blande, who, with her moth- 
er, left the company in Oma- 
ha and resided here for a 
year or two. She attracted 
the greatest attention from 
everybody whenever she ap- 
peared on the streets. Frank 
Currier, the photographer, 
took a large number of pic- 
tures of her in different cos- 
tumes and poses, and exhib- 
ited them in front of his gal- 
lery. During her residence 
in Omaha she had an ardent 
admirer who was connected 
with the army in a civilian 
capacity. Edith 1 Maude re- 
turned to England, but upon 
learning that her admirer in- 
tended committing matri- 
mony she came back in a 
hurry and demanded an ex- 
planation and an accounting. 
She got both, and then left 

her once devoted lover free 
to marry another. Edith 

Blande is alive today and 
li< »lds a high place in I a mdotl 
theatrical circles. She is 

regularly engaged in the 
Theater Royal. 
In the theatrical field of Omaha there is no man better 
or more popularly known than William P, Byrne, who was 
l>' 'in in this city, and has been connected with amusement enter- 
prises since his boyhood days He began his career in the 
Academy of Music as call boy, and in 1881 he found employ- 




l.ililli 1 1 I : . I . . 1 . 



250 



THE STORY OF o.MAIIA 



ment at the Boyd opera 
house. His next move was 
to the Grand opera house. 
When the Boyd theater, at 
Harney and Seventeenth, 
was opened in 1891 Mr. 
Byrne became a member of 
the staff. For two years he 
was employed in the pro- 
motion, construction and 
conducting of the Trans- 
Mississippi and Interna- 
tional exposition. In the 
fall of 1898 Mr. Byrne 
was employed at the Or- 
pheum which opened that 
year, and he has been 
there ever since. For thir- 
teen years he has been man- 
ager of that popular play- 
house. Incidentally, during 
three or four summers, he managed Lake Manawa park. Dur- 
ing his career he has come in contact with all the stars of the 
legitimate stage and with all the noted specialty actors in vaude- 
ville, and with many of these people he made lasting friend- 
ships. Mr. Byrne's father was John E. Byrne, one of the most 
efficient policemen that Omaha ever had, and his grandfather 
was Philip Norton, Omaha pioneer, who was one of the con- 
tract-builders of the Union Pacific. 




"William P. liyrne, 
manager of the Orplieum theater 



CHAPTER XXVII 



OMAHA FROM 1S56 TO 18< 



THE GOOD TIMES OF 1856 — [NFLATION OF THE CURRENCY — 
OMAHA l.ooM- UP- -A SEVERE WINTER — OMAHA GETS A CITY 
CHARTER JX FEBRUARY, 1857, AND PUTS ON METROPOLITAN 
AIRS — REAL ESTATE BEGINS TO WEAKEN— THE GREAT FINAN- 
CIAL BREAKDOWN — GENERAL DEPRESSION CITY SCRIP — THE 
( OLORADO GOLD DISCOVERY HELPS THE CITY — LIVELY TIMES 
AC A IX. 

During the year 1856 there was an inflation of the cur- 
rency all over the country, fully equal to that immediately 
succeeding the close of the war of the rebellion in 1865 and 
1866. Times were good everywhere, and particularly so in 
Omaha. Everybody considered himself rich or likely soon to 

- 

be. This state of affairs continued all through 1856. Real 
estate sold at high prices, and corner lots were in great demand 
at almost any figures. Speculation ran wild in Omaha, .'is it 
did in many other new western towns, and everybody dabbled 

in real estate. Money was made easily and quickly. The 

motto was "quick sales and big profits." ( )uiaha grew rapidly 
in population during 1856, and many buildings were erected 
during that year. 

The winter of 1856 7 was very severe and has ever since 
been d msidered the hardest seas< »n e> er experienced in < )maha. 
The weather was (air through the fall, but on the 30th of No- 
vember a snowstorm began and continued until the morning 
of the 3d of Decemb The weather was exceedingly cold 
after the storm, and remained so all winter, with the exception 
of a few davs in February. The snow that had fallen at the 



252 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 







THE STORY OF OMAHA 253 

very opening of the winter did not begin to disappear until 
some time in March. Thomas Swift, an old settler, in relating 
the events of that memorable winter, said : ''The snow was 
from four to five feet deep and was crusted over. An immense 
number of deer everywhere broke through the crust and were 
frozen to death. One man in Harrison county, Iowa, gathered 
250 dead deer and piled them in one stack. Men traveled about 
with snow shoes and picked up the dead animals. A large 
number of cattle were frozen to death in the snow, one man 
losing between two and three hundred head. In coming from 
Dakota City to Omaha I had to get out of the wagon and lead 
my team by a line through the drifting and blinding snow. 
During the storm an Englishman, who had just come to Oma- 
ha, wanted to go to Barney ( VReilly's boarding house, at Twen- 
ty-first and Webster streets, and paying a man two dollars to 
accompany him and help to carry his trunk he started for 
the place. They found the house by stumbling over the chim- 
ney, which stuck out of the snow only a few inches. In the 
spring I wa~> at St. Mary's, between Nebraska City and Council 
Bluffs. I started fur Omaha in a storm and went only 200 
yards when I was obliged to turn back. ( )n that day the Ne- 
braska legislature adjourned. It had done nothing but charter 
wild-cat banks and town-site schemes, and the members had 
nearly all started for Nebraska City, the best town in which t«» 
dispose "i~ town-site stock. The speculative legislators were 
forty-eight hours in reaching St. Mary's, only twelve miles 
from Omaha. Nearly all of them had their ears, noses hands 
and feet severely frozen." 

Omaha, having reached a population of from 1.500 t<> 
1,800, asked permission of tin- legislature to put on city clothes, 
and a charier was accordingly granted in February, 1857, the 
first election occurring on the firsl Monday in March. The 
ilt was a- follows: Jesse Lowe, mayor; L l\. Turtle, re- 
corder; J. A. Miller, city marshal ; Charles Grant, cit) solicitor; 
Lyman Richardson, city assessor; V S. Morgan, city en- 
gineer; V Chappel, health officer; V D. Jones, I <. Good- 
will, G G Bovey, M. II. Visscher, Thomas Davis, Win \ 
Byers, Wm. \\ . Wyman, Thoma <|( onner, C ll. l'"\\n\ 
|. II. Kellom, fames Creighton, councilmen. The council met 



254 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 







THE STORY OF OMAHA 255 

and organized on the 5th of March, and the first ordinance 
passed was "to prevent swine from running at large/' The 
first warrant was issued to Secretary Thomas B. Cuming for 
books and stationery furnished to the council. 

In May, 1857, an ordinance was passed dividing the city 
into three wards as follows : 1st ward — all that part of the city 
lying south of Farnam street; 2d — all that part between the 
north side of Farnam street and the south side of Capitol 
avenue; 3d — all that part north of Capitol avenue.* 

The ever memorable financial breakdown of 1857 began 
with the suspension of the Ohio Trust company, followed by 
the failure of banks everywhere throughout the new west. 
Within a few months every bank in Nebraska, with the ex- 
ception of two or three, had closed its doors, and ready money 
became exceedingly scarce. Of course the bursting of the 
speculative bubbles temporarily checked the rapid advance that 
was being made by Omaha, and men who had been Hush soon 
found themselves financially distressed. Business dragged 
heavily, the bottom was knocked out of real estate, and a 
general spirit of depression and despondency prevailed. It was 
so everywhere. 

The financial depression continued throughout 1858 and 
the population largely decreased. The Colorado gold dis- 
coveries, however, caused a favorable turn in the affairs of 
Omaha. In tin- spring of 1859 a large share of the emigration 
to Colorado passed through the city which soon became an im- 
portant outfitting point for crossing the plains. Busy times re- 
turned and the merchants made money rapidly. The ( Colorado 
emigration lasted until 1864, and during its continuance Oma- 
ha was substantially benefited commercially, and grew in 
population. 

It was in the year 1859 that the subjeel of the Pa- 
cific railroad first found formal public expression at a meet- 
ing held early in the spring in Pioneer block. At an adjourned 
meeting a memorial setting forth the advantages offered by the 
Platte valley route was formulated by a committee and circu- 

of the first cla en1 

February '"'' !v '''' The 'io. wan divided Into rdlnance, 

Ma y 15, • ., ha •• 

■.it', of Hi-' metropolitan cla The llmii ■ •«! ami the city 

u.i divided Into nine warda. it no* haa twelve wan 



256 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



V.: i '- V , 



IS : 




3 - 



»5 

5 v 



r 



1 fr8 -'2 '» 4. "v • '5?5' ■%! '' 

Spll 



s - 

r. O 

fe-H 

X 
2 - 

5 - 



£ - 

3 5 



S 
' S 




THE STORY OF OMAHA 257 

lated throughout the territory for signatures. 

In 1860 the city was estimated to contain about 1,500 
buildings and 4,000 inhabitants. The buildings were chiefly 
of a substantial character and were very creditable structures 
for a new town. 

The first telegraph line into Omaha was completed on 
October 5, 1860, when communication was opened with St. 
Louis, and thence with all parts of the United States. During 
the years 1860 and 1861 Omaha made rapid strides. In De- 
cember, 1863, the construction of the Union Pacific railroad 
was formally inaugurated amid great enthusiasm by the break- 
ing of ground in the presence of a large gathering of people 
from Omaha and Council I miffs. 

In 1865 the boom in business commenced, but did not 
fully get under way until the following year. The close of 
the war of the rebellion brought thousands to the west, and 
Omaha, proud of a growth stimulated by the building of the 
Pacific railroad, held out inducements to which heed was given 
by large numbers of people, man}' of whom remained and be- 
came wealth}', enterprising and influential citizens. With the 
dawn of L866 the city grew more rapidly and trade \va> ex- 
tended to distant points in the west. Manufactures increased, 
public and private improvements were begun in various quar- 
ters of the city, additional schools were provided, and new 
religions and secular societies were organized. Meanwhile 

work on lines of railroads from the east was progressing so 

rapidly that it was a question of but a brief period when the 
iron horse and trains of cars would be substituted for the 

steam boat and coach. In fact, the substantial prosperity of 
Omaha with only occasional halts in the onward march 
dates it- origin from the year 1866 

As Dr. Miller observed in his "Home Gossip" column of 
The Omaha Herald in after years: '< »inaha was practically 

extinguished under the financial a\alanehe of 1857, and did 

not fully emerge from its effects until the advent of railroads." 
It was iu 1866 that the first city directory of < ►maha was 
published. It was the work of t lharles < Collins, the publisher of 
The Evening Times, win, moved to Sioux Cit) and became 
identified with the press of that town 



CHAPTER XXVIII 



THE ERA OF STEAMBOATING AND STAGING 



THE PIONEER STEAMBOAT MISSOURI RIVER TRANSPORTATION 

VERY PROFITABLE UNTIL RAILROADS CAME OMAHA A BUSY 

PORT LIVELY SCENES ON STEAMER DAYS THE FERRY BOATS. 

The days of steamboating on the Missouri were full of 
excitement for the people of the growing town of Omaha. The 
pioneer steamboat on the Missouri that came up as far as the 
site of Omaha was the Western Engineer. A little over 100 
years ago this crude craft passed the location of the future 
metropolis of Nebraska and tied up at the trading post of 
Manuel Lesa, an agent of the Missouri Fur company. At that 
post, a few miles above the present city of Omaha, the steamer, 
which arrived September 19, 1819, remained till the following 
spring. It transported to that point the exploring expedition 
of Major Long of the United States topographical engineers. 
The Western Engineer, constructed only twelve years after 
Fulton's Hudson river boat — the Clermont — had demon- 
strated the practical application of steam as a motor power, 
left Pittsburg in May, 1819, with the expedition and steamed 
down the Ohio, up the Mississippi, and up the Missouri. The 
trip on the Missouri was slow, monotonous and dangerous. 
The boat was frequently compelled to tie to the bank to ob- 
tain wood for fuel, the crew being obliged to cut down trees, 
chop them into proper lengths, and carry the logs on board. 
The stream was unknown to the pilot who had to do consider- 
able guessing as to the safe channel course. 

On July 13th this pioneer steamer reached the little Mis- 
souri town of Franklin, long since washed away. It was then 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 259 

considered the head of navigation. A few weeks before the 
steamer Independence from Louisville had arrived at Frank- 
lin and the people of the town banqueted the captain, passen- 
gers and crew. It is claimed that the Independence was the 
first steamboat to ascend the Missouri. One of the passengers 
on this boat was Major J. D. Wilcox, father of YV. P. Wilcox. 
The latter became a river captain and made many trips be- 
tween St. Louis and Omaha during the steamboat period. 
Captain Wilcox upon his retirement from steamboating made 
Omaha his home and engaged in business with William Steph- 
ens, the firm being Stephens & Wilcox, whose store was for 
many years the leading dry goods house. Mr. Stephens was 
the father of Lucien Stephens. 

But to return to the trading post where we left the West- 
ern Engineer. Long's expeditionary force remained there all 
winter and in the spring struck out across country for the 
Rocky mountains. An interesting story of the expedition can 
be found in a work written by Edwin Jones, the botanist who 
accompanied the party. This work, in three small volumes, 
was published in London, and a copy can be seen in the Byron 
Reed collection in the Omaha public library. It is entitled "An 
Account of an Expedition from Pittsburg to the Rocky Moun- 
tains Performed in the Years 1819 and 1820, by Order of 
John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War, Under the Command of 
Major S. H. Long of the United States Topographical 
Engineer 

Steamboating on the Missouri was a very large and ex- 
ceedingly prof itable business while Omaha remained the virtual 
head of navigation, up to the years 1867-68, when the rail- 
mad- from the east reached Council Bluffs. Freight and pas- 
senger rate- were very high. Two river pilots in the tall of 
1856 purchased an old Stern-wheel steamer in St. Louis for a 

small sum, and heavily loading it with goods they arrived at 
Omaha in November and received five cents a pound for their 
freightage. They earned enough mone) on tins single trip to 
pay for their boat and have several thousand dollars remaining. 

During the period previous t<> the advent of the railroads 
John l\. Porter and Marry I )euel. under the linn name of Por 

ter & Deuel, were the principal steamboat agents Mr, Torter 



260 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



came to Omaha in the spring of 1856 and engaged in the com- 
mission business with Mr. Riddler, and soon after with Mr. 
Bremen, with whom he continued in partnership two or three 
years. Incidentally, their store was the first building to be 
destroyed by fire in Omaha. It stood on the corner now occu- 




Jolui R. Porter 



pied by the Paxton hotel. Bremen was succeeded by Harry 
Deuel in 1859, the firm then taking the name of Porter & 
Deuel, who became the agents for the St. Joe packet line and 
the Hannibal & St. Joe railroad, the terminus of this road being 
at St. Joe. 

In the summer of 1864 Mr. Porter raised a volunteer 
cavalry company and was elected its captain. He had a fair 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 261 

knowledge of military tactics and had been drilling the home 
guards every Saturday. During the summer of this year he 
was engaged in campaigning with his cavalry company against 
the Indians and had one real fight at Plum Creek, now Lexing- 
ton, where the Pawnees had burned fourteen wagons and 
killed the emigrants. Captain Porter had followed a party of 
Pawnees to this point, picking them off one at a time. He 
finally cornered the band and fourteen of them were killed and 
three were taken prisoners. Captain Porter's company met 
with some other adventures and it did valuable service in es- 
corting supply trains between Julesburg and Fort Kearney, 
returning in November. 

Mr. Porter served as city councilman in 1864, 1865 and 
1868, and was elected police judge in 1871 for a two-year 
term, and was again elected in 1875. And a most excellent 
judge he was. Judge Porter also served two terms as a mem- 
ber of the legislature. He was the father of Mrs. Ed Haney, 
whose husband was for many years station master at the Union 
depot, and was grandfather of Dr. \V. P. Haney. Judge Por- 
ter during the later period of his life resided in California 
where he died in 1898. 

John A. Horbach, father of Paul Horbach, was also en- 
gaged in the steamboat passenger and freight business in the 
early days and became an extensive property holder. Another 
well known river transportation man was C. C. Eiousel, who 
continued in the business for some time after the completion 
of the railroads fn .in the east. 

During the steamboal period from two to seven steamers 

a week arrived at and departed from the port of ( )maha. Steam- 
er day was an exciting event. The long, loud whistle of an 
approaching boat was the Signal for the entire town to gather 
at the landing place and the debarkation of the passengers and 
the Unloading of the freight was viewed with the greatest in- 

W'hile a boat was unloading freight it was customary 
for the citizens t<» have a dance in the saloon Tin- does not 
mean in the bar room but in the long dining hall on the passen- 
ger deck. And in those days the Missouri river steamers v. 
the equals in lize and first eias^ pa >mmodations of 

the a\< Mississippi boats; in fad some of them were de 



262 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

scribed as floating palaces. A line of the best steamers on the 
western rivers plied between St. Louis and Omaha, and a tri- 
weekly line of packets ran between Omaha and St. Joe, where 
connection with eastern points was made over the Hannibal & 
St. Joe railroad. This was as far back as 1860. In that year 
the river opened unusually early allowing the steamer Emilie 
of the Hannibal & St. Joe railroad company to make the port 
of Omaha on March 7th. The first steamer to arrive in the 
spring was hailed with enthusiastic delight. It broke the mon- 
otony of a long winter and brought large consignments of the 
necessaries of life to replenish the stocks of the merchants. As a 
sample consignment the following goods for Lacey & Mc- 
Cormick, the first wholesale grocery in Omaha — established 
in 1859 — will show what the people of that period most needed 
in the early springtime ; Flour, sugar, coffee, sow-belly, a large 
quantity of crackers, baking powder, dried apples, pick handles, 
powder and shot, a large supply of Julius Smith's "Old Mag- 
nolia Whiskey" (one day from the rectifying tub), costing 
12% cents a gallon. (Oh, what a difference between then and 
now !) The pick handles and powder and shot were mostly for 
the miners who were beginning to strike across country for 
"Pikes Peak or Bust!" These goods were purchased in St. 
Louis, the crackers being brought from J. Garneau, who, in 
the early '80s, built quite a large cracker factory in Omaha at 
the northwest corner of Twelfth and Jackson streets, his son, 
Joe Garneau, being placed in charge and who managed it for 
several years. Upon leaving Omaha Joe Garneau, who had 
become very popular here, went to New York and made his 
home in that city. 

For many years Jesse Lacey and John McCormick were 
among the leading and wealthy Omaha citizens and each built 
a residence that was classed as a mansion. John McCormick 
was the father of Woodie McCormick, who married Zera 
Snow of Salt Lake, now residing in Portland, Oregon, and 
the uncle of Marry McCormick. 

Algernon Sidney Paddock, who became United States sen- 
ator, in an address before the Nebraska state fair in 1878, said : 
"When I arrived in Omaha (1858) after nearly a week's jour- 
ney by steamer from St. Louis, the entire population of that 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 263 

little settlement, as was the custom in those early days, appeared 
to have swarmed out upon the river bank to give us greeting. 
The whole number then sojourning there could not have ex- 
ceeded 1,500 at most. And, as I soon learned, not one in 
twenty of these had any visible means of support, any faith 
in the country, or any expectation whatever, other than to 
leave as soon as he could sell his lot in town, or his pre-emption 
in the country, which, quite likely, he had acquired, not by 
an investment of hard-earned money, but by certain circum- 
locutory processes — the inventions of speculators of inventive 
genius." 

The Western Stage company ran its coaches into Omaha 
from the terminus of the Chicago & Northwestern railway, 
which was pushing its way across Iowa. A line of stages also 
ran from Omaha to Kearney, connecting there with the main 
stage line for Colorado and California. There was great rivalry 
between the Iowa stage company and the steamboat lines for 
passenger business. 

One day in the summer of 1864 fifty mountaineers from 
points far up the Missouri arrived at Omaha in a mackinaw, 
and Marry Deuel corralled the whole party, selling them tickets 
for the easl via the St. Joe packet line, and assuring them that 
a boat would arrive in half an hour and depart for St. Joe 
within two hours. They were all going to Xew York, the 
through tare being $43. The steamer failed to arrive that day. 
Xext morning the mountaineers became very impatient. The 
Stage men told them that Deuel, and his partner in crime— Jim 
Read, traveling agent for the Hannibal & St. foe railroad — 
had purposely lied to them, and that if they were in a hurrv t" 
go east they better demand the return of their money and bin- 
stage transportation across low a. No steamer came that day. 
Deuel and Read i< >< ,i< to the tall timber, and secreted themselves 
and bung on to the boat money, amounting t<» over $2,000 

In the afternoon of the third day the joyous sound <>t 
the steamer whistle was heard. Deuel and Read returned to 
their of f ice, gol the mountaineers together, and informed them 

that the I". at was in Sight and would leave m an hour They 

adjourned to a convenient sal<.<.n where Deuel and Read "set 

up" the 'Irn era! times, and soon the part) u,h in a 



264 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 




•<o:;^ "v.. 

^- V 



Harry Deuel, 
pioneer Hteamhoat elerk and tieket a^ent 

very good-natured mood. The steamer had been stuck on a 

sand bar, which was not an unusual mishap. The above was 
only one of many similar incidents. Mr. Deuel fully under- 
stood the art of disappearing and bobbing up serenely at the 
psychological moment. 

Idle steamer Denver was the favorite boat in the fleet of 
the St. Joe packet line. It was a palatial craft. The commander 
was Captain J. ('. Waddell, and for several years Harry Deuel 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 265 

was the clerk. When the Union Pacific reached the 100th 
meridian — about 200 miles from Omaha — in 1867, an excur- 
sion was given on the Denver in honor of the event. The Den- 
ver's dinner bill of fare on that occasion is evidence that the 
excursionists had an epicurean feast fit for the gods. It in- 
cluded two kinds of soup, two kinds of fish, roast beef, pork, 
veal, mutton, pig, turkey, chicken, duck, grouse, five boiled 
meats, vegetables, eight kinds of entrees disguised under 
French names, game consisting of elk, teal duck, pheasants, 
and goose, cold dishes, twelve varieties of relishes, dessert con- 
sisting of puddings, pies, cakes, creams and jellies, strawberries 
and cream, nuts, fruits, coffee, tea and cream. (Wine list on 
application. I 

When the railroads came Harry Deuel tied up with the 
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy completed in 1868 to the Mis- 
souri river- and was its local passenger agent for many years. 
He had the honor of selling the first passenger coupon ticket 
out of Omaha. His next move was t<> the Union Pacific as 
local np-town ticket agent, remaining with that company sev- 
eral years. 

In 1902 Mr. Deuel was elected register of deeds, serving 
"lie term. The Deuel home was for many years located on a 
lot in the square now occupied by the county courthouse. Mr. 
Deuel, who died in 1914, was the father of Charles L. Deuel, 
secretary treasurer of McCord-Brady company, and was one 
of Omaha's mosl popular citizens. 

Until the arrival of the eastern railroads at tin- river a 

e pari of the tics, rails, rolling stock and general supplies 
tor the (Jnion Pacific, then under construction, was trans- 
ported to Omaha by steamer from St. Joe and St. Louis. 

The construction of the Union Pacific was actively be 

gun early in the Spring of 1864, and it was not until the winter 

of 1867 that the Chicago iK Northwestern reached Council 
Bluffs. During this interval the river boats did an enormous 

business, and long after the railroads came numerous 

steamer wer< '1 in carrying freight and troops from 

St. Louis to the government posts on the upper Missouri The 
round trip to Fori Benton, the head of navigation occupied 

almost the (Dt!!' .ii 



266 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



Captain W. W. Marsh, 
who was one of the prin- 
cipal men in the ferry 
company, was a hustler 
all his life. He came to 
Nebraska in the spring of 
1856 and established a 
stage line between Dako- 
ta City and Niobrara. He 
was the first government 
mail contractor in Dakota 
territory, his contract cov- 
ering the route from Fort 
Randall to Sioux City, be- 
tween which points he 
conducted a stage coach 
line for two years. In the 
fall of 1862 Captain 
Marsh bought a large in- 
terest in the Council 
Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry 
company, and the next 
spring took entire charge 
of the business. At that 
time the company oper- 
ated only one boat, the 
Lizzie Bayliss. When the 
railroads began running 

to the river, one after the other, the company added four steam- 
ers to its equipment, and continued to do an enormous business 
until the completion of the Union Pacific bridge in the spring 
of 1873. One of the transfer boats — the Gise — was used ex- 
clusively for passengers, and frequently carried 500 persons 
at a time upon the arrival of the trains from the east. The 
freight boats transported four or five freight cars on each 
trip. The landing place on the Iowa side was a point nearly 
opposite the foot of Douglas street, and not far from the pres- 
ent location of the Council Bluffs waterworks. The eastern 
railroads terminated there as did also the Council Bluffs horse 




Captain W. W. Marsh, 
pioneer in the ferry business 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 267 

railway. The channel of the Missouri was much farther east 
than it is now, and to reach the river from the Omaha side 
required a long drive or walk over a sandy bottom. The Oma- 
ha landing was shifted from time to time. In 1871 the pas- 
senger landing was in a little bayou a short distance above the 
Union Pacific bridge, construction upon which had been start- 
ed, several piers having been placed in position. The Union 
Pacific passenger trains ran down to this landing. The depot 
at that time was located at Ninth and Marcy streets. It was a 
long one-story structure. In the winter the ferry company con- 
structed an ice bridge and operated a transfer train of its own. 
The Chicago & Northwestern railroad — the first Iowa road to 
reach the river — ran its solid trains across the ice bridge into 
Omaha during one winter. 

Among the well known employees of the ferry company 
were Captain John McPherson, Captain John Swobe and Dan 
Shull of the steamer Irene, the engineers being Dave Morrison 
and Joe Caghegan. Captain Pat Riley managed both the H. C. 
Xutt and Munson. Captain Maxwell had charge of the Gise. 

With the completion of the Union Pacific bridge the 
business of the ferry company came to an end. Captain Swobe 
was then employed by the Union Pacific to take charge of the 
"dummy" train, as it was called, for the transportation of 
horses and vehicles between Omaha and the transfer station 
on the Iowa side. This mode of transfer was employed be- 
cause the bridge had no wagon roadway, and it was abandoned 
when the Douglas street bridge was built in 1888. Captain 
McPherson was also employed as a "dummy" train conductor. 

Captain Marsh in 1873 bought the Omaha street railway 
from A. J. Hanscom and for several years devoted his entire 

attention to it and extended the track and otherwise improved 

the service. In 1884 he sold a three-fifths interest to the I ni<>n 
Pacific for $1 50, 000. lie served one term as a city council- 
man. In 1878 Captain Marsh became interested in the Wyom- 
ing Stage Company, and was for a time its superintendent. The 

company ran coaches between Sidney and I )eadw i k »d Captain 
Marsh was one of the principal organizers of the Union Na- 
tional bank, which some years ago was taken over by the 

United States National. 



268 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



Mrs. \Y. W. Marsh and her three sons — Allan, William 
and Frank — are well known residents of Omaha. In the pub- 
lic library there is an album containing the pictures of the 
ferry company's fleet of steamers. This collection was pre- 
sented to the library by William Marsh. 

Prominently connected with the ferry company for several 
years was Captain C. B. Rustin, who came to Omaha in 1864 
from Sioux City. He was one of the originators and principal 
promoters of the Omaha Smelting works, and was secretary 
and treasurer of the company from 1872 until 1878, when he 
became president, soon after severing his connection with the 
establishment to engage in western mining operations. 







CHAPTER XXIX 



ADVENT OF THE TELEGRAPH 



FIRST LINE TO OMAHA WAS BUILT BY EDWARD CREIGHTON, WHO 
ALSO CONSTRUCTED THE PACIFIC TELEGRAPH FROM OMAHA 
TO SALT LAKE — HIS INTERESTING AND SUCCESSFUL CAREER 

— OMAHA AN IMPORTANT TELEGRAPH CENTER. 

The first telegraph line to reach Omaha was the Missouri 
& Western from St. Louis. It was completed October 5, 1860, 
and in the evening of that eventful day two or three unimport- 
ant messages were transmitted between Brownville and Omaha, 
and on the following day connections were made with all east- 
em points. The next line into Omaha was the Illinois & Mis- 
souri Valley. 

The Missouri & Western was constructed by Edward 
Creighton for a contractor named Stebbins for whom he had 
built a line in 1859, from Jefferson, Mississippi, to Fort Smith. 
Arkan Mr. Creighton, who was horn in Ohio in 1820, 

m his business career at an early age as a wagon freighter 
between ( Cincinnati and ( Cumberland, Maryland, but the profits 
being small he turned to other pursuits, in 1840 he engaged 
in the construction of public improvements, one of his con- 
bracts being the repair of the national turnpike between Cum- 
berland, Maryland, and Springfield, Ohio. This was in the 
period of the opening of canals, railroad building, and public 
worl nerally. Short lines of telegraph were erected here 
and there, and the useful] f the invention was being prac 

tically demonstrated, gradually removing all doubt as to its 
future Capitalists, who had considered the success of the 
telegraph ionan and impractical, were won over, and 



270 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



they invested in the enterprise and brought about a consolida- 
tion of the small and financial weak companies. In this way the 
Western Union company was developed into a strong organ- 
ization. Among the far seeing men who accomplished this 
result were Hiram Sibley, Ezra Cornell, and Jeptha H. Wade. 
Sibley began his career as a shoemaker, and eventually became 
a banker, and a seed raiser of national reputation, accumulat- 
ing a vast fortune. He became interested in the early experi- 




ments of the electric telegraph and aided in securing an ap- 
propriation from congress to promote the invention of Morse. 
Upon the consolidation of the various companies in 1856 Sib- 
ley was elected president of the Western Union, as the new 
corporation was named. It was Ezra Cornell, who, in 1842, 
suggested that telegraph wires be strung on poles, and when 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 271 

the lines were being put in operation he devoted himself to 
telegraph construction and the organization of companies. He 
was the founder of Cornell university. Sibley college at the 
university was founded by Sibley. Wade was a capitalist of 
Cleveland. 

In 1859 Edward Creighton had conceived a plan of build- 
ing a telegraph line from Omaha to the Pacific coast. During 
the years from 1847 to 1859 he had constructed thousands of 
miles of telegraph connecting Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Louisville, 
Buffalo, Chicago, St. Louis and Omaha, and also several south- 
ern lines. From his various contracts he had accumulated 
about $25,000. Going to Cleveland he laid his plan of a Pacific 
coast line before Mr. Wade in hopes of interesting him and 
his associates in the undertaking. Wade gave the proposition 
careful consideration and finally induced the Western Union, 
in which he was a heavy stockholder, to supply Mr. Creighton 
with the means for a preliminary survey. In winning the ac- 
quiescence of the Western Union he was assisted by Sibley 
and Cornell. 

Mr. Creighton made the trip of survey in the winter of 
1860-61, leaving Omaha November 18th. Going by stage to 
Salt Lake he there made the acquaintance and won the lifelong 
friendship of Brigham Young, and interested him in the en- 
terprise. Mr. Creighton pushed on from Salt Lake on horse- 
back. It was a most perilous ride. The country was then 
the land of hostile Indians. The snow was deep and the weather 
was intensely cold. Mr. Creighton underwent much suffering, 
his face being severely frost bitten. He finally reached Sacra- 
mento, having followed the trail of the pony express, and there 
met Mr. Wade, who had gone to the Pacific coast by steamer 
via the isthmus of Panama. A conference was had with the 
California State Telegraph company, which had built a line 
from San Francisco to Sacramento, and it was agreed that 
( xeighton should construct a line from Julesburg t<> Salt Lake, 
there t<» conned with the ( California company. The Missouri & 

Western had by this time been extended from ( )maha t<» Jules- 
bur^. 

Creighton and Wade returned by steamer, and Creighton's 

report was favorably received, especially as u was accompanied 



272 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

by an expression of willingness to undertake the enterprise 
himself. The Pacific Telegraph company was at once organ- 
ized, and congress granted it a subsidy of $40,000 a year for 
ten years. In this corporation the Western Union owned the 
majority of stock. 

On July 4, 1861, construction was begun, and on Octo- 
ber 17th, the line was run into Salt Lake, the California com- 
pany coming in and connecting a week later, uniting the At- 
lantic and Pacific coasts. 

Mr. Creighton held stock in the company to the extent of 
$100,000, which he had purchased for 18 cents on the dollar, 
and represented one-tenth ownership in the corporation. The 
Western Union doubled its capital stock and that of the Pacific 
was tripled, thus increasing Creighton's shares to $300,000. 
The Pacific stock rose from 28 cents to 85 cents. Creighton 
now sold one-third of his stock for $85,000, and had $200,000 
remaining. 

Assisting Edward Creighton in the construction of the 
Pacific Telegraph were John A. Creighton, his brother, and 
James Creighton, his cousin, and W '. H. Hibbard, who eventu- 
ally became general superintendent. The oxen and wagons 
employed in the work were bought by Creighton and later sold 
to Brigham Young. He now engaged in freighting, having 
purchased a new outfit, and continued in this business until 
the completion of the Union Pacific. In 1865, with a patrol 
of thirty cavalrymen from the Eleventh Ohio regiment, he 
kept his telegraph line open through a section of the country 
infested by hostile Indians, who frenquentlv tore down the 
wires and burned the poles. Repairs were made by the patrol 
at night, and even then they were not free from danger. Thus 
connection between the east and west was maintained. In 1866 
Mr. Creighton built a telegraph line from Salt Lake into Mon- 
tana. The management of the Pacific Telegraph became a 
side issue with him. During the construction of the Union 
Pacific he did a large part of the grading of the road, and 
entered extensively into cattle raising on the plains and sup- 
plied the railroad gangs with meat. 

Mr. Creighton had planned to run a telegraph line up the 
Pacific coast to Behring strait, across which he intended to lay 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 273 

a submarine cable, and extend a wire through Russia, thus 
connecting Europe and America. He induced the Western 
Union to make the survey and he no doubt would have carried 
out his plan had not the Atlantic cable been laid. 

Mr. Creighton, who was president and general manager 
of the Pacific Telegraph from the time of its completion until 
1867, made Council Bluffs the temporary terminus, thus for- 
cing another corporation to lease its Chicago wires to his com- 
pany, in this way securing an important connecting link. In 
making Omaha the initial point of the Pacific Telegraph he 
no doubt largely influenced the location of the Union Pacific 
eastern terminal in Omaha. 

Mr. Creighton was a heavy subscriber to the stock of the 
First National bank at its organization in 1863, and was elected 
its president, which position he held until his death, November 
5, 1874. He was a director of the First National bank of Den- 
ver and also of the Pocky Mountain National of Central City, 
Colorado. Jn the memorable panic of 1873 Mr. Creighton 
Stood ready to back the First National bank of Omaha with his 
entire fortune. lie always entered enthusiastically into any en- 
terprise that made for the upbuilding of Omaha, and his name 
will long endure in this city. Omaha owes much to Edward 
Creighton. In his later years he frequently expressed regret 
that he bad been unable in his youth to acquire a good educa- 
tion, and it was in accord with bis wish that his wife, who 
died in 1876. provided for the founding of Creighton uni- 
versity a splendid memorial, indeed. 

The Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph company established 
its lines from Omaha to San Francisco in 1869, and in 1873 
strung w ires between ( )maha and ( !hicag< i to connect its eastern 
and western systems. Tins company was eventually absorbed 
by the Western Union. In 1870 the Great Western Telegraph 
was built from Chicago to Omaha connecting with the Pacific 
coasl over the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad 
wires. The American Union came into Omaha in 1880 and 
the following year passed into the hands of the Western Union. 

\ message of ten words from Omaha to New York in 
I860 cost $5.65; to Chicago or St. Louis, $3.55, and toother 
P' »ints in the same rat i< >. 



274 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

A ten-word day message from Omaha to New York now 
costs 12 cents plus 10 cents war tax, and to Chicago the rate 
is 48 cents plus 5 cents tax. There are now 47 wires entering 
Omaha and 650 persons are employed in the telegraphic 
service. The number of messages handled daily is 45,000. 
This is a big increase since 1889 when the wires numbered 
only eighty, the daily messages 4,000, and persons employed 
about 200. Omaha has long been one of the important tele- 
graph points in the United States. The Omaha division of 
the Western Union covers Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, 
Minnesota, North and South Dakota and is under the general 
management of A. D. Bradley. W. T. Davis is district com- 
mercial superintendent, his jurisdiction extending over Ne- 
braska and Iowa. G. M. Horton is the Western Union city 
superintendent. 

The Postal Telegraph-Cable company built its line into 
Omaha from Kansas City in 1886. It was originally called the 
Pacific Mutual Telegraph company. It has the longest cable 
circuit in the world — from New York to San Francisco. J. G. 
Wolf is the district and local manager, his territory covering 
Nebraska. 

There has been a wonderful improvement in telegraphic 
transmission since the early days of the Morse instruments, 
which, however, are still in use. One message one way is all 
that could be handled at one time by the Morse instruments. 
By means of the duplex two messages can now be sent each 
way simultaneously. The quadruplex handles four messages 
and the phantoplex takes six. 



CHAPTER XXX 



BUILDING OF THE UNION PACIFIC 



BREAKING OF GROUND FOR THE FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL RAIL- 
WAY A MEMORABLE EVENT ELOQUENT SPEECHES OF A. J. 

POPPLETON AND GEORGE FRANCIS TRAIN PROGRESS OF THE 

GREAT ENTERPRISE DRIVING OF THE GOLDEN SPIKE WHICH 

UNITED THE UNION PACIFIC WITH THE CENTRAL PACIFIC 

OTHER RAILWAYS. 

Prior to the advent of the railroad the steamboat, the 
stage, and the ox team were the only means of transportation 
in western Iowa and the vast territory west of the Missouri 
river. Omaha's first railway was the Union Pacific, and it 
was under construction before any other road had reached 
tin's city. 

The project of a railroad to the Pacific ocean had long 
been agitated in a vague way until 1850, when Senator Ben- 
ton of Missouri introduced in congress the first Pacific rail- 
road bill. The idea was probably suggested to him by his son- 
in-law, John C. Fremont, who in 1842 had explored the South 
pass. Following this there were several other expeditions 
through the vast west, and Fremont surveyed a route for a 
mad from the Mississippi to San Francisco. After the close 
of the war of the rebellion he occupied himself to a great ex- 
tent in forwarding the interests of the Southern Transcontin- 
ental railway. Incidentally it might be mentioned that had 
not the war of the rebellion occurred, the first transcontinental 

railway would very likely have been built along a southern 

route, probably starting from St. Louis. In 1851, lion. S. 
Butler King submitted a plan which was universally approved. 

It was to the effect that the government should guarantee t" 



276 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

any company or persons who would undertake and complete 
the road a net dividend of five per cent for fifty or one hun- 
dred years ; the road to be constructed under the supervision 
of an engineer appointed by the government, the cost of the 
road not to exceed a certain sum, and the guarantee not to 
begin until the road was completed and equipped for operation. 
In 1853-54 nine routes w r ere surveyed across the continent on 
various parallels, under the supervision of Jefferson Davis, 
then secretary of w r ar. With each returning session of con- 
gress the benefits and peculiarities of these several routes were 
submitted, and the results were summarized, in the interests 
of the extreme southern line. Finally it was demonstrated 
that the route along the north side of the Platte river was the 
most practicable. In June, 1857, a number of distinguished 
men from various portions of the United States visited 
Omaha and conferred with parties having in view the con- 
struction of the Pacific road by way of the Platte valley and 
South pass. The visiting party consisted of Colonel Orr, of 
South Carolina; General Robinson, John Covode, and Mr. 
Bradshaw of Pennsylvania; Judge Barber of Wisconsin; Gen- 
eral Curtis of Iowa; Mr. Hosmer of Ohio; Mr. Pierce of In- 
diana, and others. They united in a recommendation to con- 
gress that such a reasonable grant of land and such other aid be 
contributed as would prove a sufficient inducement to build the 
road, and they also recommended the Platte valley route. The 
construction of a Pacific railroad was urged at every session 
of the Nebraska territorial legislature, and it became one of 
the most cherished hopes of this new country. 

During the session of the thirty-sixth congress a Pacific 
railroad committee was appointed, and on the 20th of January, 
1858, the committee, through Senator Gwin of California, re- 
ported a bill which proposed to locate the eastern terminus of 
the road at some point between the Big Sioux and Kansas 
rivers. The bill provided for the donation of alternate sec- 
tions of land on each side of the road, and $12,500 per mile, 
the same to be advanced upon the completion of every twenty- 
five miles until the sum of $25,000,000 should be reached; 
the amounts thus advanced to be returned in mail service and 
transportation of men and munitions of war; five per cent of 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 277 

the stock to be issued ; the president of the United States to 
receive bids and locate the road. The bill, however, was killed 
in the senate. Another effort was made at the session of 
1859-60, when a new bill was introduced by General Curtis of 
Iowa, which met with more favorable consideration, but with 
no better results. 

On the evening of January 29, 1859, a meeting of citizens 
of Omaha was held in Pioneer block, at which a memorial, 
prepared at a previous meeting by a committee consisting of 
William A. Gwyer, (i. C. Monell and A. D. Jones, was adopted. 
The memorial was forwarded to Washington. 

Thus the matter rested until February 5, 1862, when Mr. 
Rollins of Missouri, by unanimous consent, introduced a bill 
to aid in constructing a railroad and telegraph line from the 
Missouri river to the Pacific ocean, and it was referred to the 
Pacific railroad committee. It was substantially the same as 
that introduced by General Curtis at the previous session. On 
May 6, 1862, the bill, with various amendments, was passed 
by the house by a vote of 79 to 49, and was then sent to the 
senate for concurrence. 

Decisive action was delayed until June 20th, when by a 
vote of 35 to 5 the bill was adopted and sent back to the house. 
The bill, as amended by the senate, was then adopted by the 
house by a vote of 104 to 21. and was approved July 1. 1862, 
when it became a law. The bill provided among other things 
that quite a large number of persons, whose names were given, 
should be created into a body corporate and politic, in law and 
• Iced, by the name. Style and title of "The Union Pacific Rail- 
r< tad ( < tiiipanv."' 

The persons named were from all sections of the north. 
the ^outh being then in rebellion. Those from Nebraska were 
Gilbert ( Monell. Augustus Kountze, I. M. Marquette, W. 
II. Taylor and Alvin Saunders. At that time Samuel (1. Daily 
wa^ the Nebraska delegate in congress, and he it was who had 

the name of Augustus KountZC inserted in the original charter. 

Mr. Kountze afterwards becoming one of the government di- 
rectors <»f the road. In addition to the persons above named 

the bill provided for the appointment of five commission 
also for the laying out and constructing a continuous railn 



278 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

and telegraph line from a point on the 100th meridian between 
the Republican river and the north margin of the Platte val- 
ley, in Nebraska, to the western boundry of Xevada; and for 
the amount of the capital stock; for the appointment of com- 
missioners and other officers; the election of directors; right 
of way ; donations of alternate sections, except mineral lands ; 
the conveyance of lands upon completion of every forty con- 
secutive miles; and the issue and payment of bonds therefor; 
the designation of the route; the time of completion for the 
main line being 1876. The land grant amounted to 12,000,000 
acres or 19,000 square miles, in alternate sections within a 
breadth of twenty miles on each side of the road, and along its 
entire length. 

An amendatory act directed that a meeting should be held 
in Chicago on the first Tuesday of September, 1862, the object 
being to complete the organization and open books of sub- 
scription to the capital stock. The meeting was accordingly 
held, General Curtis of Iowa presiding, and Robert Finney of 
Pennsylvania and J. B. Robinson of California acting as sec- 
retaries. There were seventy-three commissioners present. The 
permanent organization of the convention was effected by the 
election of W. B. Ogden of Illinois as president, and H. V. 
Poor of New York as secretary. The great undertaking was 
thoroughly discussed, and a committee of thirteen was ap- 
pointed to advise and co-operate with the officers. 

The formal organization of this national enterprise was 
effected on the 20th of October, 1863, in the city of New York. 
A board of directors was elected, as follows : George Opdyke, 
John A. Dix, T. C. Durant, E. W. Dunham, P. Clark, E. T. M. 
Gibson, J. F. D. Louier, G. T. M. Davis, A. G. Jerome, August 
Belmont, L. C. Clark, Charles Tuttle, Henry Y. Poor, and 
George Griswold, New York city; J. V. L. Pruyn, Albany; E. 
H. Rosekrans, Glenn's Falls; A. A. Lowe, San Francisco; W. 
B. Ogden and J. F. Tracy, Chicago; Nathaniel Thayer and C. 
A. Lombard, Boston; C. S. Bushnell, New Haven; J. H. Scran- 
ton, Scranton ; J. Edgar Thompson, Philadelphia; Ebenczer 
Cook and John E. Henry, Davenport ; H. T. McConeb, Wil- 
mington, Delaware; Augustus Kountze, Omaha; John I. Blair, 
New Jersey; S. C. Pomeroy, Kansas; John A. Dix, president; 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 279 

T. C. Durant, vice president; John J. Cisco, treasurer, and 
Henry V. Poor, secretary. 

The next step was the selection of the eastern terminus of 
the road. At this time there were three lines of railroad being 
built across the state of Iowa towards Omaha. The Burlington 
& Missouri, now the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, was in 
operation for one hundred mifes west from Burlington. The 
Mississippi & Missouri, now the Chicago, Rock Island & 
Pacific, had reached Grinnell. The Chicago, Iowa & Ne- 
braska, now the Chicago & Northwestern, was running to 
Marshalltown. Owing partly to the favorable location of Oma- 
ha, the objective point of these roads, it was decided to make 
this city the initial point of the Union Pacific, and on Wednes- 
day morning, December 2, 1863, Peter A. Dey, the chief en- 
gineer, received a telegram from New York announcing that 
the president of the United States had fixed the initial point 
on the " western boundary of the State of Iowa, opposite Oma- 
ha — opposite section 10, in township fifteen, north of range 
thirteen, east of the sixth principal meridian, in the territory 
of Nebraska." 

It would require the space of a very large volume in which 
to relate the complete history of the Union Pacific and the 
Central Pacific — the first transcontinental railway — a gigantic 
and world-famous undertaking. It is the intention of the 
writer of this history to confine himself principally to the local 
incidents connected with the pioneer construction work of the 
Union Pacific. This work was begun in Omaha. 

December 2, 1863, will ever remain a memorable and 
epochal day not only in the history of ( hnaha but of the whole 

country, and in fact of the world. It was on that day that 

ground was broken in Omaha for the building of a transconti- 
nental railway that would in a few years revolutionize the 

world's transportation. It was the beginning of the connect- 
ing link in the trip around the <J<>bc. 

It was quickly decided to have a celebrat i« »n and t«> break 
ground at once. In less than an hour after the receipt of the 

telegram to Mr. Dey the following committee of arrange m e n ts 
was appointed: Augustus Kountze, Enos Lowe, John Mc- 
Cormick, A. J. Hanscom, B. F, Lushbaugh, V I Poppleton, 



280 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

John I. Redick, Ezra Millard, E. Estabrook, E. B. Taylor, 
George M. Mills, W. F. Sapp, Jesse Lowe, O. P. Hurford, 
Edward Creighton, J. J. Brown, and George B. Lake. A. J. 
Hanscom was appointed president of the day. The committee 
hastily arranged a programme of exercises, and fixed the hour 
for the ceremonies at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. It was a 
pleasant day, the sun shining brightly and the thermometer 
indicating 46 above zero. 

At the hour named a crowd of about 1,000 persons as- 
sembled and marched to the place where the ground was to be 
formally broken. This spot was near the ferry landing and 
the "old telegraph poles," not far above the point where the 
Union Pacific shops are located. This initial point of the 
Union Pacific has long since been washed away by the Mis- 
souri river, together with about one mile of the first track 
laid, which was included in the measurement of the first twenty 
miles. For this first mile, as well as for every mile, the Union 
Pacific received $16,000 and 12,000 acres of land. 

A stage-coach belonging to the Western stage company 
conveyed to the scene a number of prominent men, among the 
party being Edward Creighton, Governor Saunders, George 
Francis Train, Joseph Shepard, division superintendent of ex- 
press, afterwards the general superintendent of the United 
States Express company, and Dr. Atchison, general stage 
agent at Omaha. 

The exercises were opened with prayer by Rev. T. B. 
Lemon. The first earth was removed by Governor Saunders 
and Mayor B. E. B. Kennedy of Omaha, and Mayor Palmer 
of Council Bluffs, assisted by Augustus Kountze, Engineer 
Dey, George Francis Train, Dr. Atchison, and others. Guns 
were fired and deafening cheers arose from the assemblage. 
One brass six-pounder was stationed on the Nebraska bank of 
the Missouri river, and another was located on the opposite 
bank, and during the exercises they were fired at frequent 
intervals. 

Governor Saunders made the first speech. He then read 
a message from Colonel John Hay, private secretary of Presi- 
dent Lincoln. Mayor Kennedy next spoke, and read a dis- 
patch from Mayor Opdyke of New York. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 281 

Speeches were also made by Dr. Monell and A. J. Popple- 
ton of Omaha; A. V. Larimer of Council Bluffs; George B. 
Lake of Omaha; George Francis Train, and others, all being 
listened to with a great deal of interest. Mr. Poppleton's 
speech was as follows : 

"Fellow Citizens of Omaha and Council Bluffs — 
On the 13th of October, 1854, about 7 o'clock in the evening, 
I was set down by the Western stage company at yonder city 
of Council Bluffs. At the rising of the sun on the following 
morning I climbed to the summit of one of the bluffs which 
overlook that prosperous and enterprising town, and took one 
long and lingering look across the Missouri at the beautiful 
site on which now sits, in the full vigor of business, social and 
religious life, the youthful but thriving and this day jubilant 
city of Omaha. Early in the day I crossed the river, and along 
a narrow path cut by some stalwart man through the tall, rank 
prairie grass, I wended my way in search of the post office. At 
length I found an old pioneer, seated apparently in solitary 
rumination upon a piece of hewn timber, and I inquired of him 
for the post office. He replied that he was the postmaster and 
would examine the office for my letters. Thereupon he re- 
moved from his head a hat, to say the least of it, somewhat 
veteran in appearance, and drew from its cavernous depths the 
coveted letters. On that day the wolves and the Omahas were 
the almost undisputed lords of the soil, and the entire postal sys- 
tem was conducted in the crown of his venerable hat ! Today at 
least 4,000 radiant faces gladden our streets, and the postal 
service, sheltered by a costly edifice, strikes its liriarcan arms 
towards the north, the south, the east and the west, penetrat- 
ing regions then unexplored and unknown and bearing the 
symbols of values then hidden in the mountains and beneath 
the Streams, of which the world in its wildest vagaries had 
never dreamed. Then it took sixty days for New York and 

California to communicate with each other. Today San Fran- 
cisco and New York, sitting upon the shores ■»! the oceans, 

,},000 miles asunder, hold familiar converse. I r< »n and steam 

and lightning are daily weaving their destinies more closely 

with each other and ours with theirs, as the inter oceanic city, 

wh< isc commerce, trade and treasures leave the last great na\ ig- 



282 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



able stream in their migration from the Atlantic to the Pacific 
seaboard. It is natural, therefore, that you should lift up your 
hearts and rejoice. And though we have watched for nine long 
years, during which our fortunes have been, like Antonio's 
treasures, 'mostly in expectancy,' we at last press the cup in 
full fruition to our lips. The lines have indeed 'fallen to us 
in pleasant places,' and, as I look upon the smiling faces before 
me, I seem to read in their happy expression the words of 
the pious poet : 

'This is the day we long have sought, 
And mourned because we found it not.' 

"All this, however, is but the personal significance of 
this great national enterprise to us. To us it means prosperity. 
To the nation and all its people it bears a significance well ex- 
pressed in a telegram received from Governor Yates of Illinois, 
which I am requested to read. 

St. Nicholas Hotel, New York, December 1, 1863. 
Committee of arrangements, Union Pacific railroad: To Major-General 
John A. Dix, president of the Union Pacific Railroad company: 
Sir — I have regarded the enterprise of building the Union Pacific 
railroad as of the utmost national importance. While in congress, when 
opportunity offered, I urged its necessity, and it is with peculiar pleasure 
that I learn that the building of the road, so long delayed, is to become 
a verity. When completed it will be an enduring monument of the enter- 
prise and patriotism of our common country, firmly uniting the two ex- 
tremes of the nation, and rendering them indissoluble for all time to 
come. 



I am, respectfully yours, 



RICHARD YATES. 



"I esteem myself fortunate in thus being allowed to give 
expression to this concourse, the greeting of the state of Illi- 
nois, through its chief executive officer. 

"In this hour of sanguinary struggles, when that great and 
union-loving state, through that most trusted, fortunate chief- 
tain, General Ulysses S. Grant, is hurling its victorious sons 
into the very vitals of the so-called confederacy, she still finds 
time to turn aside for one brief moment and wish us God-speed 
in this wonderful work upon which we now enter. 

"When those iron bands with which we hope to gird the 
continent shall stretch from sea to sea, they will stand perpetual 
hostages against the terrible calamities of national estrange- 
ment, disruption and dismemberment. The act of congress 
establishing this great enterprise, should have been entitled 
'An act to promote the preservation of the Union, to prevent 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 283 

national dissolution, and bind together the Atlantic and Pa- 
cific coasts by an indissoluble covenant, to resist and repel 
foreign aggression.' There is not on all the Mississippi and its 
tributaries a citizen so craven but that were the free navigation 
of that noble stream, from its source to its mouth, denied him, 
he would achieve it with the sword. So will this highway of 
the world be the common boon of every citizen, to be cherished 
and defended with special devotion. 

"Standing here, at the initiation of this stupendous enter- 
prise, in this third year of our civil war, let us devoutly pray 
that the hour which witnesses its completion may behold a 
rebellion overthrown, a union restored, a constitution unim- 
paired, civil liberty, and the pursuit of happiness the inalien- 
able birthright of the weakest, the poorest and the lowliest 
citizen in all our borders. Then with full hearts and bounding 
pulses we may renew the strain : 

'Great God, we thank Thee for this goodly home, 

This bounteous birth-land of the free, 
Where wanderers from afar may come 

And breathe the air of liberty; 
Still may its flowers untrampled spring - , 

Its harvest wave and cities rise — 
And long 1 'till time shall fold his wing", 

Remain earth's loveliest paradise.' " 

The speech of George Francis Train upon this memorable 
occasion was as follows : 

"I have no telegraphic dispatches to read, no sentiments 
to recite. The official business is over, and as I happen to be 
lying around loose in this part of the country (laughter) at 
this particular time, it gives me a chance to meet sonic of the 
live men of Nebraska at the inauguration of the grandest en- 
terprise under God the world has ever witnessed. (Applause). 

"America is the Stage, the world is the audience ^\ today. 
While one act of the drama represents the booming <>! cannon 
on the Rapidan, the Cumberland and the Rio Grande, sound- 
ing the death-knell of rebellious war. the next scene records 

the booming of cannon on both sides of the Missouri to cele- 
brate the grandest work of peace that ever attracted the en- 
ergies of man. The great Pacific railroad is commenced, 

and it you know the man who lias hold of the affair as well 

a> I do, no doubt would ever arise as to its speedy completion. 
The president shows good judgment m locating the road where 



284 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

the Almighty placed the signal station, at the entrance of a 
garden seven hundred miles in length and twenty hroad. 
(Applause). 

"Look at the force of nature here — study the map, and 
point out, if you can, another place for the central station of 
the world's highway. 

"The enterprise is national. Tis the people's road. No 
party politics dare obtrude their obnoxious features into this 
organization. The directory is the agent of the government 
in carrying out the wishes of the nation. Four thousand 
years ago the pyramids were started, but they simply rep- 
resent the vanity of man. The Chinese wall was grand in 
conception, but built only to break the tide of .invasion. 
The imperial canal was gigantic, but how limited all these 
things appear in comparison to an enterprise that joins to- 
gether thirty- four states and a dozen territories. (Applause). 

"Before the first century of the nation's birth we may 
see in the New York depot some strange Pacific railway 
notice. 

" 'European passengers for Japan will please take the 
night train. 

'Passengers for China this way. 

'African and Asiatic freight must be distinctly marked 
For Pckin via San Francisco.' (Laughter and applause). 

" 'Before ten years go by,' said one of the prime movers 
of this great undertaking, T intend to let the European traveler 
get a new sensation by standing on the ridge pole of the Ameri- 
can nation and sliding off into the sea.' (Applause). 

"Already late dates from the Chinese waters reach the 
European markets, via the Rocky mountains, and in 1870 teas 
and silks will follow in the same way. England laughs at this. 
So she laughs at our rebellion. England is not, never has been, 
and never will be the friend of America. Let England remain 
a bully, but God forbid that America continue to be a toady. 

"America is a congress of nations. 

"Here are a few stock points with which T have always 
interlarded my Fourth of July speech: 

"That America possesses the biggest head and the finest 
quantity of brains in the phrenology of nations. (Applause.) 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 285 

That humanity, a puking babe in Asia, a lazy school boy in 
Europe, came here to America to air its magnificent man- 
hood. (Applause.) That industry came out of Egypt, then 
a tidal wave of time-giving law from Rome; more centuries, 
and art springs from France ; later, commerce sails from Eng- 
land, while America was reserved to combine all the good of 
the past — industry, law, art, commerce, with the grander mis- 
sion of representing the grand Pacific railway idea of progress. 
(Applause). 

"America is twenty-one years of age. She should dis- 
charge the wet nurse. (Laughter). 

"I despise a toady. Let us build up a mother country of 
our own. Let the cry go out — 'Down with England and up 
with America!' (Loud cheers). 

"When they spoke of our national debt I asked them 
what right England had to monopolize the entire national debt 
of the world. (Laughter.) I told them Deo volente that one 
of these days we would roll up a national debt that would make 
them ashamed of themselves. (Loud laughter and applause.) 
And while upon this point I may mention that the Pacific rail- 
way is but another name for a monster national prospecting 
party to open up the mines of the mountains. One day a dis- 
patch will come in, 'We have tapped a copper mine ten miles 
square;' another clay, 'We have just opened another vein of 
coal; 1 later on, 'We struck another iron mountain this morn- 
ing,' when. Eureka! a telegram electrifies the speculators in 
Wall street, and gold drops below par. i Laughter.) 'At 10 
o'clock this morning we struck a pick into a mountain of solid 
gold.' (Cheers.) Now here is the idea. The moment this is 
done I hapten to Mr. Chase to have him take possession of 
the government, organize a mining bureau, and arrange his 

plans to pay off the national debt without laying taxes Upon 

the shoulders of the people. (Loud applause.) Mr. Cha 
broad grasp of finance will seize at once the vitality of the 
idea. Me will be pleased to learn that his greenbacks an 

good as gold in this part of the world. 

"The Pacific railroad is the nation and the nation is the 
Pacific railway. Labor and capital shake hands today. The 
lion and the lamb sleep together. The representati >f labor 



286 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

are all around me in the west. The representatives of capital 
are in the east. The two united make the era of progress. 
Steam, gas and electricity are the liberty, fraternity and equal- 
ity of the people. Cavalry, infantry and artillery is only the 
Frenchman's motto. (Laughter.) The world is on the ram- 
page. Events are earthquakes now. Two things are likely to 
happen about the time this railroad is completed. Two pas- 
sengers — both Americans — take a special car over the route. 
One goes out as Punjaub of Mexico, the other as empress of 
China. (Cheers and laughter.) 

"America has built 40,000 miles of railroad for the same 
sum of money that England paid for her 10,000. Now con- 
gress passes a bill making the capital stock of the company one 
hundred millions. That would have built the Great Eastern, 
the Thames tunnel, the tubular bridge, the Crystal palace, the 
mosque of Omok, Diana of the Ephesians, (laughter.) the 
Pyramids (if they used an American engine in hoisting the 
stone), and Pompey's pillar. (Laughter and cheers.) Con- 
gress gives something towards building this great national 
thoroughfare — not much, but something; say a loan of govern- 
ment credit for thirty years, for $16,000 a mile and 20,000,000 
acres of land. But what is that in these times? Read statis- 
tics of what they did when the bill was signed. 

"I have statistics that show these facts : Cost of eight 
New England roads, 1,112 miles, $35,000 per mile; cost of 
eight middle states roads, 4,120 miles, $42,500 per mile, cost 
of western roads, 4,488 miles, $37,000 per mile. These were 
built before the inflation of the currency. The last great road 
built, the Atlantic & Great Western, the middle link of the 
great broad-gauge track that covers half a continent, cost 
$46,000 per mile. These figures prove that congress ought 
to add the increased price of labor and material to the grant. 
The iron alone cost $10,000 per mile, and the rolling stock, 
ties, &c, $6,000 more, leaving nothing for grading, bridges 
and stations. Fortunately, however, no one opposes the enter- 
prise, however divided on other points. No party could live 
in opposition to opening up the heart of the country. 

"My idea is that the shares, $1,000, are too high. They 
should be reduced to $100, and subscriptions should be opened 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 287 

in every town of 500 inhabitants. Let the laboring man have 
one share; make it the people's road in reality. Thousands 
would subscribe if the shares were reduced in price (Applause.) 
Would you not recommend congress to do this? (Yes.) Well, 
congress will shortly be in session, and now is your time to act, 
for 100 miles of road must be opened by next fall, for I am 
told that 10,000 workmen will be at it in midsummer. (Loud 
applause.) Already the engineers are in the mountains and 
the geologists are probing for the precious metals. Go into 
Creighton's office and see the one hundred and fifty pounds 
of gold a miner sent him from Idaho yesterday. (Applause. ) 
* * * * Emigration will soon pour into these valleys. 
Ten millions of emigrants will settle in this golden land in 
twenty years. If I had not lost all my energy, ambition and 
enterprise, I would take hold of this emigration scheme, but 
the fact is I have gone too fast, and today am the best played- 
out man in the country. (Laughter.) However, if the pope 
knew I was out here I believe he would send me a commission 
to establish a Catholic colonization society on a nine hundred 
thousand dollar lot in the Platte valley. 

"While already America possesses one-half the common 
sense, three-fourths the enterprise, and seven-eighths the beau- 
ty of the world (loud cheers), can anyone doubt, in looking at 
the geological position of the prairie land, that America was 
the old world when Europe, Asia and Africa were merely 
islands that dotted the eastern seas. The deluge theory of Asia 
Minor is absurd. They cut a little channel in ancient times 
between Asia and Europe — the I Xanlenelles — and elevating 
the Mediterranean by turning the Black and Caspian seas, the 
water overflowed by Syria and the ark grounded, but in our 

time Xoali could not gel command of a one-horse gun boat, or 
a military prison. (Loud laughter). Stand high up on the 
summit of this continent and you will see when the grand de 
luge covered the world, ( )ne wave made the Rocky mountains 
and then the Alleghanies, leaving one thousand miles of five 
feet prairie soil to raise corn for the starving world. (Ap- 
plause. ) One portion of the water wound it^ way by the M is- 
souri and the Mississippi t<> the sea, and another by way of the 
St Lawrence, the Atlantic ocean deposing those inland 



288 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

of fresh water, Lakes Michigan, Huron, Superior, Ontario and 
Erie, along the road and making a plateau of boundless prairie, 
expressly for the track of the great Union Pacific railway 
of America. (Loud cheers.) One more stock idea. As sure 
as the rainbow is the autograph of God, the Union must and 
shall be preserved. (Applause.) Alan has made these great 
lines of railway to run east and west, but God, thinking man 
might blunder, was His own topographical engineer, and took 
the precaution to build the mountains and the rivers north and 
south, and what God has put together let no ambitious plebeian 
in the north or rebel traitor in the south dare to tear asunder." 
(Loud cheers.) 

Upon the conclusion of Mr. Train's speech the crowd dis- 
persed, being well satisfied with the afternoon's proceedings, 
an account of which was telegraphed to eastern papers by Air. 
Train and Mr. Edward Rosewater. 

In the evening the city was brilliantly illuminated, and a 
grand railroad banquet and ball took place in the Herndon 
house. George Francis Train was among the guests. He was 
then a fine-looking man, about five feet ten inches in height, 
of rather corpulent build, blue eyes, prominent nose, and dark 
curly hair, streaked here and there with gray. He appeared to 
be about thirty-five years of age. His talk impressed his hear- 
ers as being rather extravagant, but it was pleasant to listen to 
him as he was a brilliant speaker. Dispatches of congratula- 
tion and encouragement were received and read from Brigharr 
Young, from the mayor of Denver, and from Governor Stand- 
ford of California, and also from Hon. William H. Seward, 
Governor Yates of Illinois, and other prominent men. Thus 
ended the 2d of December, 1863, one of the most important 
and eventful days in the history of Omaha and Nebraska. 

Early in the spring of 1864 active work was begun on the 
construction of the Union Pacific railroad, contracts having 
been let for the work for one hundred miles west to a point in 
the Platte valley, from which surveys were continued to the 
100th meridian. After about $100,000 had been spent on the due 
westerly course, it was abandoned, because it was claimed that 
it was too hilly to allow the road to be completed for :i distance 
of one hundred miles to save the charter, which required that 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 289 

that much of the road should be finished between the Missouri 
river and the 100th meridian within three years after the filing 
of the company's assent to the organic law, filed June 27, 1863. 

Two new routes were then surveyed, one to the north 
and thence west; and the other to the south, nearly to Bellevue, 
and thence northwest and west. The latter route was called 
the "ox-bow," and was chosen by the company, notwithstand- 
ing the violent opposition of the people of Omaha, who had 
great fears that the company intended to cross the Missouri at 
Bellevue and leave ( >maha out in the cold. The greatest anxi- 
ety existed in Omaha at this time. Everything was finally 
harmoniously settled, however, and, upon the abandonment of 
tin* idea of starting from Bellevue Omaha breathed easy once 
again. 

The grading was once more pushed rapidly forward 
along the "ox-bow" route, and the laying of the track fol- 
lowed almost as fast. The ties for the road from Omaha to 
the Platte valley were obtained from the Missouri river bot- 
tom lands. Being of Cottonwood they were put through the 
burnetizing process, which made them impervious to weather 
and animal or vegetable parasites. The ties for the remainder 
of the r<»;id were of hard wood, and were obtained from Michi- 
gan, Pennsylvania and other distant states, and frequently 
cost as high a- $2 ; <) per tie, laid down in Omaha. 

The- first rail was laid in Omaha July lo. 1865, a short 
distance northeast of the Union Pacific shops. At the 
end oi that year forty-six miles of track had been laid and ma- 
chine shops and engine houses had been started. Four lo 
motives, two first class passenger coaches, two baggage cars, 
a number of box cars, thirty-four platform or flat cars, and 
nine hand cars arrived 1»\ Missouri river steamers in the years 

1865 and IS'.'. 

Some idea of the difficulty and cost of constructing the 
Union Pacific may be gained from the fact that there was a 
break in railroad communication between Omaha and Des 
Moines, a distance 1. 1 133 miles, and consequentl) everything 
bad t<. be transported b) teams from that point, or 1>\ steam- 
boats np the Missouri. The company employed six lai 
imboats for the transportation of material, in addition t<> 



290 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



O 



•3 ^ 






J-, »-H 



C co 
O £ 



a; 

£ <v v> 

v <v I — I 

^ S3 



S • 

a3 ^ 

to °° 



O 

oo 



co 

> 












~ <L> 



5 



CO 



r- 1 

r-i 

U 

CO 



cS co 

.5 co 



o to 



en O 
Ih 



4J 



CO 





111 

% s s 

.S O i2 

fc/) <-> 
- cu '5 



CO 

o3 



CO c 

RJ 

I & 

J- ^ 






2 -c 






b£ 



<l> 



(J <u 

^ o3 



2 



cd 



o 

r. 

<v 

Ph 

o 



C^H J_i CO 

o $ " 

tn jQ C 

fd 

co ^ 

* x..« 



U ^ V 



X 






.' 



(N ^ : 



C £ c 



hJ 5 



CO 

3 



co 



o 

c 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



291 



hundreds of teams between Des Moines and Omaha. The 
shops were started soon after beginning the work of building 
the railroad. They were completed in the fall of 1865. The 
seventy-horse-power engine for the shops was transported 
by wagons from Des Moines. 

The completion of the first fifteen miles of track was 
celebrated by an excursion from Omaha. Thomas C. Durant, 
who arranged the excursion, took a locomotive and a flat car 
and invited about twenty prominent men to go with him 
on the trip to the end of the track at Sahling's Grove. Among 
the excursionists was General Sherman. It was an enthusiastic 
party, and, as the commissary department was well supplied, the 
excursionists enjoyed themselves. General Sherman, who was 
called upon for a speech, related his experience in sinking sev- 
eral thousand dollars, years before, in California, in an effort 
to start the Pacific railroad. He reviewed the dream of other 
days, and expressed the hope that he might live to see the time 
— but could scarcely expect it at his age — when the two oceans 
would be united by a complete Pacific railroad. General Sher- 
man, contrary to his expectations, lived to see that, day, and 
traveled over the complete railroad uniting the two oceans. He 

went over the road in less than 
seven years from the day he took 
the trip of Sahling's Grove. 

Every twenty miles of com- 
pleted road was duly inspected 
by properly appointed inspectors, 
and numerous excursions were 
made t<» the end of the track as it 
was moved from point t<> point. 
I- 1 t'tv miles i >f the n 'ad w a- o »m- 
pleted and in running order on 
the 13th day of March. 1866, and 
the commissioners of the govern- 
ment, I leneral S. R, ( 'urtis. 
( lolonel I. II Simp* m and \V. M 

White, tame t< » ( hnalia On April 

Jnrk ( H-rnimt. | brlun.llrr 1 5th, aild tllC 11C\I d.lV WCIlt OVtt 

the n >ad to North Bend, and ac 




ki-nrrnl 111 t h «* I ill mi nrinv. 



292 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



cepted the work. In July it was announced that 135 miles of 
track was read}- for the cars. The grading continued very 
rapidly, and the Casement Brothers — Jack and Dan — who had 
the contract for track-laying, frequently laid the track at the 
rate of five miles a day. There was 200 miles of road built 
during the year 1866; 240 miles in 1867, and from January 
1, 1868, to May 10, 1869, 555 miles was laid, completing the 
road and connecting with the Central Pacific, which had been 
pushed with equal rapidity and had crossed the Sierra Nevada 
mountains, being a marvelous triumph of engineering skill. 
There was a lively race between the Union Pacific and Central 
Pacific to build the greatest number of miles, and a dangerous 
rivalry sprang up, which was likely to involve both 

roads in unpleasant and ser- 
ious difficulties, which, 
however, were settled on 
April 9, 1869, by the rail- 
road committee of the house 
of representatives agreeing 
to ask the passage of a joint 
resolution declaring that no 
bonds be issued to either 
corporation for the eighty- 
mile section between Ogden 
and Monument Point, until 
congress arranged a plan 
for the junction of the 
roads. Meanwhile the rep- 
resentatives of the two cor- 
porations met and agreed 
that the place of junction 
should be at Promontory Point in Utah. It was there that the 
roads were united on the 10th of May, 1869. 

The celebration in Omaha in honor of the completion of 
the Union Pacific and its junction with the Central Pacific 
was an enthusiastic affair. It was a general holiday for every- 
body. Private and public buildings were ornamented with 
decorations of all kinds — flags, festoons, banners and mottoes. 
A telegraph line was run to a building on Capitol hill, and 




Samuel It. Reed, 

superintendent of construction of 
Union Pacific railroad. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



293 




294 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

direct communication was had with Promontory, where the 
golden spike, at the junction of the roads was being driven 
with a silver hammer into the last tie, which was of laurel wood. 
When the last blow w r as given at Promontory it was instantly 
known in Omaha, where one hundred guns were fired in rapid 
succession when the announcement w r as made. The dispatch 
from Promontory to all parts of the country was : "The last 
rail is laid! The last spike is driven! The Pacific railroad is 
completed!" 

A procession was formed in the afternoon on Farnam 
street, and with flags and banners flying the citizens marched 
to Capitol square, where the meeting was presided over by 
Governor Saunders. Eloquent speeches were made by General 
Clinton B. Fiske of Missouri, and General Manderson and 
Judge Wakeley of Omaha. 

The illumination in the evening was a brilliant spectacle. 
The city was one blaze of light, while the display of pyrotech- 
nics was very beautiful. It was the grandest day ever recorded 
in the history of Omaha. The Atlantic and Pacific were joined 
by bands of steel, and a revolution was accomplished in the 
world's commerce. 

In 1876 Robert Louis Stevenson, the famous English 
novelist, said: "It seems to me, I own, as if this railway were 
the one typical achievement of the age in which we live.'' 

Probably the only survivor of the large party of railroad 
men who witnessed the driving of the golden spike is Thomas 
O'Donnell, now living at 1733 South Eleventh street, Omaha, 
in 1923. Mr. O'Donnell came to the Union Pacific in April, 
1867, when the end of track was near Ogalalla, and worked 
under the Casement brothers until the road reached Promon- 
tory. Mr. O'Donnell was retired from the Union Pacific 
service on a pension October 5, 1914. 

The Union Pacific and Central Pacific immediately upon 
completion became known as the "Overland Route" to and 
from California to distinguish it from the water route by way 
of the Isthmus of Panama. 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 295 

The following poem was read at the Chicago celebration 
of the opening of the Pacific railroad, May 10, 1869, the 
author's name being now unknown : 

Ring out, oh bells! Let cannons roar 

In loudest tones of thunder. 
The iron bars from shore to shore 

Arc laid, and nations wonder. 

'/Ii rough desert vast and forest deep, 
Through mountains grand and hoary, 

A path is opened for all time 
And we behold the glory. 

•li'c, who but yesterday appeared 

Mere settlers on the border, 
Where only savages were reared 

Mid chaos and disorder. 

We wake to find ourselves midway 

In continental station, 
. hnl scud our greetings cither way 
. \cfOSS the mighty nation. 

lie reach out towards the Golden date 

. \nd eastward to the ocean. 
The tea will come at lightning rate 

. Im/ likewise Yankee notions. 
From spicy islands oft the West 

The breezes now ate blowing, 

i hnl alt creation dors its best 

To set the greenbacks flowing. 

The eastern tourist will turn out 

. I nil visit all flic stations. 
/■o>- Pullmans run upon the route 

l\ itli most attiih five rations 



296 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 




The second chief en- 
gineer of the Union Pa- 
cific in its pioneer period 
was General Grenville 
M. Dodge, who was born 
in Danvers, Massachu- 
setts, April 13, 1831, 
and was educated in 
Partridge's military aca- 
demy and Norwich uni- 
versity. He served with 
distinction in the war of 
the rebellion, and was a 
member of congress 
from Iowa in 1867-69. 
In 1894 General Dodge 
succeeded General Sher- 
man as president of the 
Army of the Tennessee, 
and was also president 
of the New York com- 
mandery of the Loyal 
Legion. In 1898 he was made chairman of the president's 
commission to inquire into the management of the war depart- 
ment in the war with Spain. 

The route selected for the Union Pacific was made by 
the Indians, next by the Mormons, and then by the emigration 
to California and Oregon. So says General Dodge in his 
autobiography. 

In 1852 Dodge was a rodman under Peter A. Dey, who 
was division superintendent of the Rock Island road, under 
whose direction he made a survey of the Peoria & Bureau 
Valley railroad in Illinois. In May, 1853, Dey left the ser- 
vice of the Rock Island, and began the survey of the first rail- 
road across Iowa, beginning at Davenport. This pioneer road 
was called the Mississippi & Missouri — the M. & M. — which 
later became a part of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific. 
Dey was made chief engineer of the M. & M., and Dodge be- 
came his assistant. The same party that made the Iowa survey 



General Grenville M. Dodge 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 297 

was ordered to explore the country west of the Missouri river. 
Dodge, who was in charge of this party, virtually determined 
that a line extending west from the river should go by way 
of Sarpy's Point, (Bellevue), or directly west from Kanes- 
ville, now Council Bluffs. Hard times delayed the work on 
the M. & M. for some years. Young Dodge located at Council 
Bluffs, and continued his explorations under the direction of 
Farnam and Durant, and secured all possible infor- 
mation from emigrants, and in this way was enabled to make 
an itinerary from Council Bluffs to Utah, California and Ore- 
gon. His map and itinerary influenced emigrant travel which 
turned to Council Bluffs and made it the crossing of the Mis- 
souri river. Dodge was paid for his services by Farnam and 
Durant out of their private funds, and in 1857 they invited 
him to visit them in New York and make a detailed report. 

"The secretary of the M. & M. company read my report, 
and before he was half through nearly every person had left 
the room," says Dodge in his autobiography, "and when he 
bad finished only Farnam, Durant and myself were present. 
I could see that there was lack of faith and even interest in 
the matter. One of the directors said in the outer room that 
he did not see why be should be asked to hear such nonsense. 
But Farnam and Durant did not lose faith. They felt that if 
they could stimulate interest in the Pacific road it would en- 
able them to raise funds with which to complete their line 
across [owa, and authority was eon ("erred upon me to begin 
work at Council Bluffs and build eastward through Potta- 
wattamie county if 1 could obtain local aid. This was secured 
and the road was graded through thai country and then we 
were called east to continue the work from Iowa City west, 
In 1861 we discontinued the work because of 
the civil war. Passage of the bill in 1862 made the building 
ot a transcontinental road possible, due primarily to persist- 
ent efforts of lion. S. R. Curtis, representative in congi 
from Iowa, who reported the bill before entering the military 
service in 1861. The bill was passed in March, 1862, having 
been taken up by Congressman lames Marian of [owa * * * 
In 1856 both political parti- ed a resolution favorin 

Pacific road In 1857 President Buchanan advocated It 



298 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

reason for holding the Pacific people in the Union, and it was 
this sentiment that gave to the forty-second parallel line the 
name of the Union Pacific railroad. In 1858 a select com- 
mittee of fifteen was authorized by congress on Pacific rail- 
roads, and in the thirty-fifth congress, second session, this 
committee allowed Curtis to report the bill, and this was the 
first bill that took the name of Union Pacific. At the next 
congress Curtis championed this bill and it was advocated as 
a strong element in holding the Union together. This bill 
was passed in December, 1860. It failed to become a law as 
the question of secession was then up and Lincoln had been 
elected president. In the extra session of the thirty-sixth con- 
gress, July, 1861, Curtis re-introduced the bill and then en- 
tered the army. Harlan of Iowa, who had been elected senator, 
became the strongest advocate of the bill in the senate. Lincoln 
urged its passage and the building of the road not only as a 
military necessity but as a means of holding the Pacific coast 
in the Union. The bill became a law in 1862." 

General Dodge was now in the army, and in the spring 
of 1863, when in command of the district of Corinth, Missis- 
sippi, he received a dispatch from General Grant ordering him 
to report to President Lincoln, who had summoned him to 
come to Washington owing to an interview between himself 
and Dodge in Council Bluffs in August, 1859. Lincoln went 
to Council Bluffs to look after an interest in the Riddle tract of 
land which he had purchased from Norman B. Jttdd of Chi- 
cago. "I had just arrived from an exploring trip in the west," 
relates General Dodge in an autobiographical sketch, "and 
after dinner, while I was resting on the stoop of the Pacific 
house, Lincoln sat down beside me, and by his kindly ways 
soon drew from me all that I knew of the country west, and 
my reconnaissances." 

At the interview in Washington Lincoln expressed him- 
self as very anxious that the Pacific road should be built. "I 
explained to him as clearly as I could how difficult it would 
be to build it by private enterprise," says General Dodge, "and 
I said I thought it should be taken up and built by the govern- 
ment. He objected to this, saying that the government would 
give the project all possible aid and support, but could not 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



299 



build the road; that it had all it could possibly handle in the 
conflict then going on; but the government would make any 
change in the law or give any resonable aid to insure the build- 
ing of the road by private enterprise." 

As a perpetual reminder of the visit of Abraham Lincoln 
to Council Bluffs there stands a monument at the entrance of 
Rohrer park residence district in that city, the inscription be- 
ing as follows : 




The Llneola aoimrai in Couacll mull'.* 

"A kiiiK of in. II. 

Whose crown was Love, 
Whose throne was Gentleness." 
This monument la to commemorate the visit of 
ABRAHAM LINCOLN 
to Council BlUffS, August 1 !». 1 v 

From this point he viewed the extensive panorama of the valley 
of tin- Missouri river, and, In compliance with the law of Con- 
ess, on November 17, 1868, he ■elected thle city as the eastern 
termlnue of tin- Union Pacific railroad, 
Brected i>> Council Bluffi chapter, 
Daughter! «>f the American Revolution, 
October, 181 1. 

General Dodge presented President Lincoln's views to 
Durant and other interested parties in New York. They took 
new courage and at the yearly meeting of the company John 

A. I)i\ was made president; 1 )nrani became vice-president, 



300 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

H. V. Poor was chosen as secretary and the office of treasurer 
was given to J. J. Cisco. The company's officers then sub- 
mitted to congress the changes needed in the law of 1862 in 
order to bring the capital of the country to their support. 

General Dodge having resigned from the army was made 
chief engineer of the Union Pacific May 1, 1866, succeeding 
Peter A. Dey, who had resigned because his surveys had been 
ignored. While filling the position of chief engineer General 
Dodge had his Omaha office in the Caldwell & Hamilton bank 
building, formerly the Western Exchange, which was located 
at the southwest corner of Farnam and Twelfth streets. 

The duties of chief engineer in the interim between the 
resignation of Peter A. Dey, in 1865, and the appointment of 
General Dodge, in 1866, were capably performed by J. E. 
House, although D. H. Ainsworth was made acting chief en- 
gineer for a brief period. This tribute to Air. House appears 
in an official history of the Union Pacific: "Mr. House sup- 
erintended the building of the shops and completed the survey 
over the Platte valley route to the bridging point on the Platte 
river, which all the engineering skill at the country's command 
in latter years has not been able to improve upon and in which 
no changes have been made west of the corrective shortline 
recently built to a connection at Lane station. Air. House, 
who died in July, 1908, lived to see this splendid endorsement 
of his unchangeable locations west of the Elkhorn river and a 
greater portion of his line double-tracked. 

And General Dodge adds this tribute : "Air. House was 
with me many years, an able, conscientious, hard-working 
man, to whom I owe much, for he faithfully filled all his po- 
sitions. He is well known in Omaha, and I am glad to say 
that he has been honored by it." 

It was on the 24th day of January, 1880, that the Union 
Pacific railroad company, the Denver Pacific railway and tele- 
graph company, and the Kansas Pacific were consolidated 
under congressional acts of July 1, 1862, and July 2, 1864. 
The name of the new organization was changed to Union 
Pacific Railway company, instead of "railroad" company. 
The Kansas branch was originally known as the Leaven- 
worth, Pawnee & Western Railroad company, and was or- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



301 



o- 


cd 


C7* 





Si 


o 




1-4 • 


T5 




>-+» 




O 




CD 

O 

CD 


o 
P^ 




— ' 
X 


aq 


3 

X 


j 


P 

O 


CD 

rt> 


o 

— 1 


o 

p 


c« 

< 


d 

CD 


CD* 

p 


crq 
O 


P 

— 
i— > 


p 


a* 


rt) 


H 




CD 


r-f- 


^ 


3* 


-^ 


ft 


i— ' 


— > 


_> • 


< 


O) 


p 


-— 

— > 


it- 
CD 

-t 


orq 


C«" 


P 

CD 


-J 
ft- 


x> 


_j 







o 


'^2 


CD 


h^ • 


CD 


r- h 






•i 


l-{ 


1 ' 


—> 


— . 


►— » 


P* 


O 




(~t- 


rt- 


P 

— > 


t—h 

o 


3 


S. 


o" 




«— • 


X 


C/3 


— < 
cd 


cT 
p. 




ft 




-! 


>-l 


O 




O 


_ r 


x 

H 


Q 
«— r 


1— » 

— < 
JZ 

IT, 

a 


M 

crc> 



o 


p 


O 

ro 


*^; 


n^* 


: 






re 


— . 


* ^ 


x' 

o 


<—> 


a 


P 

<— ■ 




' ---; 




p 


cd 


i- - 


r- h 


^ 


—i 


-t 


-1 

3 


c 


p 

l— h 


— 1 

■1 


P 

X 


rc> 

p 


X 


p 


5? * 




• ^ 


P 




^3 


CD 


3 


""^ 






- 


X 




P 


rt 


1-^ 








CL 


T 


-1 


-J 





Z 


^ 


ro 


o 


p 


P 


^J 


[> 


cd 


PC 


M 


(— h 


Vc 


a 


f- 




n 


P 


— 


X 


•-t 


X 





Mi 


X 

n 




_2 





2 


Q 


■ > 


<— ► 


a> 


^^ 


_> 


•1 








^ 








• 


PB 


— > 




-^ 




A » 


' ^ 


"I 


ft 




7Q 

rs 



1— » 


— 




— 


X 


n 
P 


3 
P 


p 

X 


< 


re 


2 




/ ~ . 


r> 




M 


P 


z 

—1 
— I 

p 


•1 


— 
— 


F - 


i— ► 


'/c 


Mi 

ft 

< 


— < 


n 
n 

/ 


__ 
j 

fl 


P 






— > 


r^- 


J£ • 


/ 


** 


_ . 


fl 


p 


—• 

ft 


— ■ 




ft 


3 


P 

/ 


_ 


/_: 


— 


p^ 


• > 


X 




s 


- 




— i 


g 




— - 


fl 


■ 


^ 


i 


ft 


4- 


: 


-1 


fj 




-^ 


n 






— ► . 


— * 


rt 


~ 


p 


f 




r* 








i— ► 


•-1 




1 


2 




—> 


rj 






~t 


—> 


i-^ 


*-• 


- 


- 






--. 


/ 
fl 

-I 


/ 
^ 


7T 


-. 
ft 

/ 




-^ 


-5 


^ 




<— • 






P 


— < 


fj 




f| 


ft 




P 


C/3 


p 


►^ 


— ■ 


1— • 






: 


/ 


~t 


P 


— 1 




5* 


s 

S 


v. 




— < 

a. 


— 1 

1 




302 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

ganized under the laws of Kansas, but was later changed to 
Union Pacific Railway company, Eastern Division, and again 
to "railroad" company in place of "railway." 

Samuel Hallett, a young banker of New York state, who 
financed the inaugural work of the Leavenworth, Pawnee & 
Western, later known as the Kansas Pacific, of which John C. 
Fremont became the president, built forty miles of track from 
Kansas City, Kansas, when he was assassinated by an employe 
in the village of Wyandotte. It is claimed by some that this 
shot from a murderer's revolver was the cause of the Kansas 
Pacific losing the race for the one hundredth meridian, 247 
miles from Omaha, thus giving the Union Pacific the right of 
way to a junction with the Central Pacific. Hallett has been 
described as "a man of genius, of boundless energy and en- 
thusiasm, fertile in expedients, bold and prompt in action." 

There were two sales of the Union Pacific property — the 
main line from Omaha to Ogden — in 1897. The first was held 
on November 1st and brought $40,253,605, which cleaned up 
the government lien. The next day the second sale was held, 
the sum of $50,637,435 being realized. This wiped cut all the 
first mortgages. The two sales amounted to $90,891,040. 
The plan of re-organization was conceived in the fall 
of 1895, and in July, 1897, the present Union Pacific 
Railroad company was incorporated under the laws of Utah. 
The foreclosure sale was conducted by Judge W. D. Cornish, 
who was appointed special master of chancery for this purpose. 
The property was purchased by Edward H. Harriman and 
associates through a syndicate represented by Alvin Krech. 
The new company did not come into full possession of the 
Oregon Short Line and the Oregon Railroad & Navigation 
company until some time later, these two properties not being 
included in the above total investment of $90,891,040. 

The principal cause leading to the foreclosure of the Union 
Pacific was the government debt. It is not true that the re- 
organizers of the corporation acquired merely "a streak of 
rust and a right of way." The record shows that the property 
was in fair physical condition and was earning a good income, 
sufficient to have kept it a going concern if the mortgage and 
accumulated interest could have been eliminated. The poten- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



303 



tial earnings of the Union Pacific system since 1897 have been 
amply demonstrated. 

Mr. Harriman, imme- 
diately after the purchase, 
took hold of the property 
and personally directed 
its reconstruction. Many 
notable improvements 
were made, and the road 
was soon brought to a 
high standard of physical 
condition. It is today 
ranked as one of the best 
constructed and one of 
the best paying railroad 
properties in the world. 
Mr. Harriman won a rep- 
utation as a financier and 
as a great railroad builder. 
His death on September 
9, 1909, was generally 
regretted throughout the 
country, especially in the 
vast territory through which the Union Pacific lines are 
operated. 

The recent purchase of the controlling interest in the Los 
Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad company adds another important 
line to the Union Pacific system. This railroad was built by 
William A. Clark, ex-United States senator of Montana, now 
a resident of New York. Mr. ('lark built the road eastward 
from Los Angeles, consolidating it with other properties pro- 
jected and constructed by the Oregon Short Line from Salt 
Lake south and southwestward. Tlu- Harriman and (lark 

interests came into conflict in Meadow Valley can\i»n. east of 

Caliente, in Nevada, and for a time the rivalry and antagonism 
frequently came nearly resulting in bloodshed. Finally llarri- 

nian and (lark agreed to pool their interests bv Forming the 

San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt bake Railroad company, and 
dividing tbe st« icks and b« >nds equally between the tw< i interests 




I :«l w :ir«l 



II it i i I in :i n 



304 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



Since 1902 the property was operated jointly and abso- 
lutely without disagreements respecting policies, control or 
management. The owners, recognizing the logical and natural 
destiny of the line as a railroad property to be a part of the 
Union Pacific system, reached an agreement in May, 1921, 
under which the Union Pacific acquired all of Senator Clark's 
holdings. This deal made the Union Pacific the sole owner of 
the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad company 
and its securities. 

The present president of 
the Union Pacific system is 
Carl Raymond Gray, who has 
held that office since January 
1, 1920. He was born in 
Princeton, Arkansas, Septem- 
ber 28, 1867, and was educat- 
ed in the preparatory depart- 
ment of the Arkansas state 
university. When sixteen 
years old Mr. Gray entered 
the service of the St. Louis & 
San Francisco road in Fay- 
etteville, where he learned 
telegraphing, and became op- 
erator and station agent. 
Three years later he was pro- 
moted to chief clerk for the 
general western agent at 
Wichita, Kansas, and in 1887 
was made commercial agent, 
serving in this capacity for 
three years. During the fol- 
lowing six years Mr. Gray 

was district freight agent, and was then promoted to division 
freight agent. Continuing to climb the railroad ladder he 
successively filled the positions of division superintendent, 
transportation superintendent, general manager, second vice- 
president, and general manager, second vice-president in charge 
of operation, and senior vice-president. In 1911 Mr. Gray 




Carl R. Gray, 
president of the TJniou Pacific 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 305 

severed his connection with the St. Louis & San Francisco 
road, and since that time was successively president of the 
Spokane, Portland & Seattle, and the Oregon Electric, the 
Great Northern, and the Western Maryland companies, and 
was chairman of the Wheeling & Lake Erie. From January 
22, 1918, to January 15, 1919, he served with the United States 
railroad administration, first as director in the division of trans- 
portation, and then as director in the division of operation. 

Mr. Gray's career is an enviable one, and as president of 
the great Union Pacific system he is adding to his excellent 
record as an executive officer. 

The following is a chronological list of all the presidents 
of the Union Pacific: September, 1862 — William B. Ogden; 
( )ctober, 1863 — John A. Dix; June, 1868 — Oliver Ames; April, 
1871— Thomas A. Scott; March, 1872— Horace F. Clark; 
July, 1873 — John Duff; June, 1874 — Sidney Dillon; June, 
1884, Chas. F. Adams; December, 1890 — Sidney Dillon; May, 
1892— S. H. H. Clark ; January, 1898, Horace C. Burt; Janu- 
ary, 1904— Edward H. Harriman; October, 1909— Robert S. 
Lovett; October, 1911— A. L. Mohler; July, 1916, E. E. Cal- 
vin; January, 1920 — Carl R. Gray. 

The first railroad to reach Omaha from the east was the 
Chicago & Northwestern. It was on Sunday, January 17, 
1867, that its first through train arrived at the ferry landing 
on the east side of the Missouri river. 

Next came the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific in the 
spring o!" 1868. As early as 1855 the Mississippi & Missouri 
River railroad, which later became the Chicago, Rock Island & 
Pacific, was pushing its way slowly westward from Chicago. 

Omaha and Florence were rivals for the terminus. There 
were two proposed ron ic-. One was down the valley of 1 4ge< m 
i reek, and the other was down the Mosquito valley. The com- 
pany selected tin- latter thus disappointing the high hopes of 
Florence. The financial crash of 1857 greatly delayed the con- 
struction of the r< >ad. 

The third Iowa railwax t«. connect with Omaha was the 
St. Joseph & Council Bluffs, later called the Kansas City, St. 

Joseph v\- Council Bluffs, and now a pail of the Burlington 
system. 



306 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



The Burlington & Missouri, now the Chicago, Burlington 
& Quincy, was completed to the Missouri river in 1868. 

The Omaha & Northwestern, now a part of the North- 
western system, was begun in 1869, and built to Herman, a 
distance of forty-seven miles. In 1876 it was extended seven 
miles to Tekamah. The president was James E. Boyd and 
his associate stockholders were William A. Paxton, John A. 
Morrow, John I. Redick, Herman Kountze, Edward Creigh- 
ton, Jonas Gise, John A. Horbach, C. H. Downs, Francis 
Smith, G. M. Mills, Ezra Millard and Joseph H. Millard. 

The Omaha & Southwestern was begun in 1869 and was 
built to Lincoln, a distance of fifty miles. The president was 
S. S. Caldwell and among the stockholders were John Y. Clop- 
per, Clinton Briggs, Henry Gray, Frank Murphy, A. S. Pad- 
dock and Francis Smith. In 1872 this road passed into the 
hands of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, which extended 
it to Kearney, where it crosses the Union Pacific, one hundred 
and ninety miles from Omaha. This extension was for many 
years called the Burlington & Missouri in Nebraska. The 
Burlington, as the system is now known, was a great factor 
in developing the south half of the state, through which it 
built a network of branches. It brought into Nebraska a large 
number of people to settle upon its lands and it has received 
its reward in an immense local traffic. 

The Omaha & Republican Valley railroad, a branch of 
the Union Pacific, was built in 1876. The Fremont, Elkhorn 
& Missouri Valley road in 1887 extended its line from Arling- 
ton to Omaha, giving this city direct communication with 
northwestern Nebraska, the Black Hills, and eastern Wyom- 
ing. This line and the Sioux City & Pacific are now merged 
in the Northwestern system, which also includes the Omaha, 
Chicago, Minneapolis & St. Paul line. The Chicago, Milwau- 
kee & St. Paul reached Omaha in 1882. The Missouri Pacific 
was completed to Omaha in 1884, and soon afterwards this 
company built the Omaha belt line, which it owns. Then came 
the Wabash, formerly the Omaha & St. Louis, followed by 
the Illinois Central in December, 1899, and the Chicago-Great 
Western in November, 1903. 



CHAPTER XXXI 



THE UNION PACIFIC BRIDGE 



EXCITING MEETING OF THE OMAHA COMMITTEE WITH THE DI- 
RECTORS IN NEW YORK FRANCIS SMITH TAKES A BOLD AND 

DETERMINED STAND FOR OMAHA JAY GOULD INTERVENES 

IN BEHALF OF THIS CITY OMAHA WINS THE FIGHT FOR THE 

LOCATION OF THE BRIDGE A TURNING POINT IN THE CITY'S 

HISTORY. 

The Union Pacific bridge was not begun until after the 
completion of the road, although the initiatory steps had been 
taken in 1866 by getting an act passed through congress. A 
fight arose as to its location, whether it should be a low bridge 
at the "Telegraph poles," or a permanent high bridge down the 
river at Quids' mill. Council Bluffs objected to the former 
place, and both Council Bluffs and Omaha opposed the latter. 
The location where the bridge now stands was finally agreed 
upon. 

The inside facts regarding the location of the bridge make 
an intensely interesting little story known t<> only a few per- 
sons. It will be remembered by some of the old-timers that 
there was a sharp rivalry between Omaha and Council Bluffs 
as to the terminus. Omaha entered into an agreement with the 
Union I \iri tie to donate to the company all the terminal gr< >und 
that it needed. The Union Pacific engineers surveyed the 

ground that was required, the land being held by various own- 
ers. Omaha and Douglas COUnty VOted $250,000 10 per cent 

bonds to pay for this terminus upon the understanding that 
the Uni<»n Pacific would build its depot here. These bonds 
were given to the owners of the ground appropriated for the 



308 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

use of the railroad to secure the title which Omaha and Doug- 
las county transferred to the company. 

About this time a rumor became prevalent that the rail- 
road directors did not intend to build the bridge at Omaha. 
The people became very much excited over this rumor and at 
once selected a committee to immediately go to New York and 
make an investigation. This delegation consisted of Governor 
Saunders, Augustus Kountze, Ezra Millard, O. P. Hurford, 
Enos Lowe and Francis Smith, who was in New York, that 
city being his home. Dr. Miller accompanied the party. 

When the committeemen arrived in New York they at 
once sought an audience with the Union Pacific directors and 
were promised a hearing. They collected in the ante-room of 
the directors' office and patiently waited to be called in. But 
the conference was postponed from day to day, much to the 
disappointment of the Omaha party. Finally when the di- 
rectors' meeting was to be held to decide the bridge location 
the Omaha men assembled as usual in the ante-room. After 
some little time had passed General Dodge, chief engineer of 
the road, came out from the meeting and said : "You gentle- 
men need not wait longer as the directors have decided to lo- 
cate the bridge at Childs' mill." This w r as a startling and stun- 
ning blow. Recovering from the shock, Francis Smith said : 
"We have not had a square deal; we are entitled to a hearing." 

Just then Sidney Dillon appeared upon the scene and 
asked: "Smith, why are you fighting so hard for Omaha?" 

"Because I believe in Omaha," replied Mr. Smith; "the 
people of Omaha have rights, and want only justice and right 
and what belongs to them." 

"Smith, give up Omaha; give up your fight for Omaha," 
was Dillon's reply. 

"Mr. Dillon, you may rest assured that I shall never quit 
fighting for Omaha," said Smith. 

Dillon thereupon shook his fist in Smith's face, accom- 
panying the movement with the threat: "Damn you, Smith, 
we will make grass grow in the streets of Omaha." 

"Dillon, it will take a bigger man than you to make grass 
grow in the streets of Omaha," answered Smith. 

At this critical moment Jay Gould joined the group and 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 309 

at once saw that a hot fight was on. Gould, who was a small 
man with a small voice, intervened by saying : "We shall have 
another meeting of the directors tomorrow at 2 o'clock." 

At that meeting the directors rescinded their resolution 
of the day before and passed a resolution locating the bridge 
at Omaha. This was on March 26, 1868. Governor Saunders 
at once sent this message to Omaha : 

"Sound the loud timbrel! Bridge located at Omaha." 

Other dispatches quickly followed giving details. One of 
the later telegrams from Governor Saunders was : "The bridge 
is located at the Train table. Omaha pledges $250,000. Coun- 
cil Bluffs pledges $200,000; ground and right of way will be 
condemned." 

It was a crucial day for Omaha. That victory was the 
salvation of the city. Had the bridge been built at Childs' 
mill it would have virtually wiped Omaha off the map. Belle- 
vue would have been the metropolis of Nebraska. Omaha 
owes this victory and her consequent growth largely to the 
late Francis Smith. Incidentally, Francis Smith and his broth- 
er, Benjamin I\ Smith, became large investors in Omaha real 
estate. 

The attempt of the Union Pacific directors to locate the 
bridge at Childs' mill was made after they had accepted the 
deed for the terminal grounds. It was a brazen intention t<» 
violate an honest contract which provided that Omaha should 
have the main transfer depots, general offices, machine shops, 
etc. Omaha paid its pledge of $250,000 in bonds, but the com- 
pany never received the Council Bluffs bonus of $200,000. 

The Boomer Bridge company of Chicago secured the con- 
tract of building the bridge for $1,089,500, and was to com- 
plete it by November L0, L869. This company was greatly de- 
layed in the work, not getting the first cylinder ready for sink- 
ing until March. 1869. The Union Pacific then annulled the 
contract and completed the structure March 25, 1873. The cost 
was $1,450,000. This bridge did away with the steam ferry, 
< louncil Bluffs successfully maintained tint the initial point of 
the Union Pacific was in Iowa, and therefi >re the Union Pacific 
was compelled t<» cross its trams over the river to meet the 

[owa trains which wire, under the laws of th.it state at that 



310 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

time, prevented from entering Nebraska. Thereupon the Union 
Pacific strategetically organized a ''bridge transfer company, " 
and operated it as a separate institution. The supreme court 
of the United States finally decided that the Union Pacific was 
a continuous line to and from Council Bluffs and that all 
through trains must be run to the Iowa side. The company 
was allowed, however, to continue its extra charge for the 
bridge transfer. 

At 4:30 in the morning of August 25, 1877, the two east 
spans of the bridge were destroyed by a tornado which swept 
down the river. The first span was toppled to the river bank 
in a shapeless mass and the second was thrown into the stream. 
The bridge parted at the third pier from the Iowa side and 
the two spans in falling southward wrenched the massive col- 
umns from their anchorage, snapping the heavy wooden sleep- 
ers as if they were made of straw. The rails, though strongly 
bolted together, were twisted like wires. 

An eyewitness has stated that he saw a black mass coming 
down the river, and that it was balloon shaped, but tapering at 
top and bottom ; that it came with a deafening roar ; that when 
it struck the bridge the immediate vicinity was brilliantly illum- 
inated with electricity; that the two spans were lifted high 
above the piers upon which they rested and were dashed to 
the earth with terrific force. It was nearly time for the cross- 
ing of a passenger train from Omaha, and this eyewitness — 
who was John Peterson, the bridge watchman at the east end 
— secured a skiff and, rowing across to the Nebraska side, 
gave the alarm at the depot just in time to save the train from 
a plunge into the stream. 

The bridge was temporarily repaired within a few weeks 
by the construction of wooden spans, which remained until 
permanent iron spans were put in place. Meantime the Union 
Pacific trains used the Burlington bridge at Plattsmouth. 

While the wooden spans were being built a flatboat ferry 
was operated by Governor Porter who, for six or seven weeks, 
did a heavy transportation business both of passengers and 
freight. The damage to the bridge was $200,000. 

During 1886-87 the old bridge was replaced by a new and 
more substantial structure and at less cost — $900,000. It was 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 311 

a double-track bridge with a wagon way on either side and 
with walks for pedestrians. It is a remarkable fact there was 
no stoppage of trains during the substitution of the new bridge 
for the old. 

This was considered a wonderful feat of engineering. 
George S. Morrison, who built the Chicago & Northwestern 
bridge at Blair and the Burlington bridge at Plattsmouth, was 
the engineer who had charge of this work. He was assisted 
by Ralph Modjeska, son of the celebrated actress. 

The only parts of the old structure that were used in the 
new were the iron piers, and these were reinforced by granite 
piers, upon which the six end or deck spans rested. The iron 
piers in the channel were torn out and immense granite ones 
were substituted. Upon the completion of the Douglas street 
bridge in 1888 the wagon way and the foot passage on the 
Union Pacific bridge were no longer used. 

And now comes an interesting little piece of history rela- 
tive to the Douglas street bridge. One of the reasons for build- 
ing this structure was that the Union Pacific did not carry out 
its original intention of providing a wagon way in connection 
with its first bridge. During the legislative session of 1870-71 
a bill drawn by A. J. Poppleton, providing for a wagon way and 
giving the railroad the right to regulate the fares, was placed 
in the hands of Edward Rosewatcr, a member of the legis- 
lature, to introduce. It so happend that Mr. Rosewater was a 

active member in the pending impeachment of Governor 
Butler, and fearing that if he introduced the bill, and it should 
pas^. it would be vetoed by the governor, he turned the measure 

over to Naac S. Eiascall, who introduced it in the senate with 

changes providing that the mayor and city council in cities of 
the first class should have the power to license and regulate 

the keeping of toll bridges, fhc the rate-, etc The bill passed, 
and is probably still in the statute books. Because this power 
was taken away from the railway the company abandoned 
the wagon way project and constructed the first bridge 
cording to the charter granted b) congress in 1866 

The third Union Pacific bridge w;h built by the American 
Bridge compan} and was completed December 26, 1916 [ts 
construction required nearly two The cost was 



312 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

$1,000,000. The spans of the new bridge were erected on 
temporary false work on the south side, and a similar false 
structure was built on the north side to which the old super- 
structure was moved to give place to the new. 

The actual time in moving the old bridge was four and 
one-half minutes. The rolling of the new steel structure into 
place required ten minutes and thirty seconds. The work was 
begun at 1 1 :30 in the morning and completed at 3 :40 in the 
afternoon, nearly all of this time being taken in arranging and 
adjusting cables between the moving operations. A gong was 
struck three times as a signal to the five flagmen who governed 
the five hoisting engines which furnished the power that moved 
the old structure. Everything moved smoothly and with 
clock-like precision. The new bridge, weighing 11,000,000 
pounds, was moved into place in a similar way. Solid steel 
rollers were placed on a track of ninety-pound steel rails, a 
like number of rails forming the upper bearing. There were 
five hoisting engines, three of which were eighty horse-power 
and two forty-five horse-power, and on each of the approaches 
a traveling crane was held in readiness for emergency use. 
The work was completed without accident or mishap of any 
kind, and was witnessed by engineers from several of the large 
cities. K. L. Strickland, chief erector of the American Bridge 
company, had charge of the moving, and the signals were given 
by T. S. Melton, the company's superintendent. The entire 
bridge work was under the constant supervision of R. L. Hunt- 
ly, chief engineer of the Union Pacific railroad, who, by the 
way, was in 1920 promoted to be chief engineer of the entire 
Union Pacific system. 

The first Union Pacific depot was located at Ninth and 
Chicago streets near the south entrance to the shops. It was 
a small frame structure and was built in 1866. Three years 
later it was abandoned, a new depot having been built on the 
south side of Leavenworth, between Ninth and Tenth. The 
trains were run down to the river and there connected with 
the ferry boats which landed in a small bayou a short distance 
north of the Union Pacific bridge location. When the bridge 
was completed in the spring of 1873, another depot change 
was made — this time to Tenth and Marcy, where a low long 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



313 



frame building was erected, and in 1875 this gave place to a 
depot that was designated as "the cowshed." On the north 
side was a large and high arched shed covering six tracks. It 
was an unsightly structure and afforded no protection what- 
ever to the passengers especially in cold weather. It was noth- 
ing but an immense air shaft through which the wind con- 
stantly blew both in winter and summer. The present Union 
station was built in 1900. 




Tlii* picture man (nkcn from a point nenr the former residence of Hcr- 

miui K oinit/.e, southeast section of Omaha. The long" shed-like building 

in the foreground was for in any jejirs the I nion Pacific depot. 

In 1898 the Iowa passenger trains first crossed the bridge 
into Omaha. They were hauled over by Union Pacific en- 
gines as the Union Pacific was entitled to the mail earnings 
under a government contract. When the union depot was 
completed in \ { )Q0 the Iowa passenger trains began crossing the 
bridge in their entirety and now carry the mail, but the Union 
Pacific has an interest in the mail contract. 

The through transcontinental trains from Chicago to the 
Pacific coasl are run over the Chicago & Northwestern and 
Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul roads, in both of which the 
I 'nion Pacific is largely interested. The Iowa passenger trains, 
except those of the Burlington, now have their terminals in the 
union station by virtue of a contract with the Union Pacific. 



CHAPTER XXXII 



DURANT, TRAIN AND AMES 



UNION PACIFIC INTERESTS WERE CENTRALIZED IN OMAHA BY 
DURANT A MAN OF INDOMITABLE ENTERPRISE SOME NO- 
TABLE INCIDENTS IN HIS CAREER THE BRILLIANT TRAIN 

WAS HIS ABLE LIEUTENANT OAKES AMES, AT THE REQUEST 

OF LINCOLN, GREATLY ASSISTED IN FINANCING THE CON- 
STRUCTION OF THE UNION PACIFIC EARLY STRUGGLES OF 

THE COMPANY RELATED BY SENATOR MILLARD. 

The name of Thomas C. Durant is not found in the Ameri- 
can Encyclopedia biographies, although he was responsible 
more than any other man for the inauguration of the construc- 
tion of the Union Pacific, the world's greatest railroad — the 
link that united the Atlantic and Pacific, and changed the long 
established routes of transportation around the globe, making 
Omaha a metropolitan city. 

George Francis Train, his able and versatile coadjutor in 
the early days of the stupendous undertaking, and one of the 
most remarkable men in several respects that this country has 
produced, is given a biography of only fifty lines in the encyclo- 
pedia. Nevertheless the name of Durant will linger long in 
the memory of Omaha and the west, the rapid development of 
which was due to the building of the Union Pacific. However, 
many people elsewhere throughout the country have forgotten 
Thomas C. Durant amid the whirl of progress that followed 
the completion of the Union Pacific railway. 

It was Durant who centralized the Union Pacific interests 
— the shops, the terminal facilities, and headquarters — in Oma- 
ha. When the road was first chartered General John A. Dix 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



315 



was the president of the company, but he was simply a figure- 
head to give tone to the enterprise. Durant was the controlling 
spirit and practical dictator of the entire project, as I have been 
informed by an Omaha pioneer, the late United States Senator 
Joseph H. Millard, who was intimately associated with the 
builders of the road, and through whose hands the money 
passed to pay the bills. 




I human ( . Durum 



Durant had been a physician in his early days, and while 
practicing his pr< rfessii »n m I )avenp< >rt, I' »\\ a. became d tnnected 
with the M. & M. the Mississippi & Missouri- railroad, now 
known as the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific. In the con- 
struction of the M. & M. Dr. Durant's partner was llcnrv 

Farnam of Chicago, after whom Farnam street is named, ln- 
cidentally, Webster Snyder, the first general superintendent 
of the Union Pacific, also came from Davenport, Mis father 
in-law, Ezra Cook, was one of the big stockholders in the M 

\ M , and \\;h the right of wav man The promoters of the 



16 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



M. & M. intended to push the road through to the Pacific, 
and with this end in view Durant, together with General 
Dodge, had acquired a practical knowledge of the route up the 
Platte valley and over the Rocky mountains. It was through 
Durant's influence that Peter A. Dey, who had made the sur- 
veys, was appointed the first chief engineer of the Union 
Pacific. 

About this time George Francis Train, famous as one of 
the most brilliant stump speakers in America, returned from 

mm 




Georire Frauds Train 



Europe. While in England he had boldly championed the 
cause of the North against the South in the war of the re- 
bellion, and also had gained considerable notoriety by his at- 
tempt to introduce street cars in London. Knowing the value 
of Train as a lieutenant in the great enterprise, Durant induced 
him to become interested, and as a result Train secured a char- 
ter for the Credit Mobilier and Credit Foncier corporations, 
which were organized on the plan of French companies of the 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 317 

same name. These corporations were the real constructors of 
the Union Pacific. Immediately after Lincoln issued his pro- 
clamation locating the initial point of the road Train, at Dur- 
ant's suggestion, hurried on to Omaha and took a prominent 
part in the ceremony of breaking ground December 2, 1863. 

His speech on that occasion was one of the most brilliant 
of his whole career. It abounded in flashes of sparkling wit 
and prophecies and pictures of the future of the Union Pacific. 
Those prophecies were regarded as very extravagant at the 
time, but they were more than fulfilled in less than six years 
from that memorable clay. 

Durant came to Omaha at the time active construction 
work was begun and was a frequent visitor until the comple- 
tion of the road. Jn the early contest over the bridge and ter- 
minus question he always took the part of Omaha. 

"Durant, as I remember him," said Senator Millard, "was 
a spare, tall man, with bright, piercing eyes and sharp Roman 
features, with dark mustache and chin whiskers. He dressed 
in the style of a frontier dandy, lie wore a slouch hat, velvet 
sack coat and vest, corduroy breeches and top boots, all his 
clothing being of a costly character. Durant was of a nervous 
temperament — all nerve — quick in motion and speech, and de- 
cisive in character, sometimes rather imperious. To use an apt 
expression, he was chain lightning itself." 

For six months Durant lived in the Lutheran parsonage 
on Douglas Street. Me was a great admirer of a New York 
lady— one of the most beautiful women in the United States 
— who happened to be in Omaha about this time. At the in- 
augural ball in Washington in 1865 he presented her with a 
shawl costing $25,000. lie bought yachts, diamonds, horses, 

carriages and indulged in all sorts of extravagances to please 
this woman. lli-> fortune at our time was counted by the 
millions, but he died a comparatively poor man. 

The charter for a Pacific railroad provided that any road 

reaching the one hundredth meridian should have the right of 

way as tin- main line t<» a connection with the Central Pacific. 
The latter road was not chartered by congress but l>v the ( Cali- 
fornia legislature to the boundary line of Nevada; but by its 
acceptance of the conditions imposed l»\ congress upon tin- 



318 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Pacific roads it became possessed of all the rights and sub- 
sidies of those roads. 

When the race for the one hundredth meridian was be- 
gun the Kansas Pacific, under the management of Samuel 
Hallett and T. F. Oaks, got a big start. In the first place, it 
had direct connection with eastern railroads so that it could 
easily and quickly transport its supplies, material and ma- 
chinery, while the Union Pacific was 150 miles from any rail- 
road connection, and was compelled to bring its supplies from 
St. Joe by steamer, or by wagon from Grinnell and Boone, 
Iowa, the former distant 150 miles from Omaha, and the 
latter 147 miles. 

Durant organized a large number of railroad contractors 
and collected vast quantities of supplies and material around 
Omaha, covering miles of ground. He opened the campaign 
in accordance with the plans of a great general. At the start 
he had everything to contend with. The heaviest grades were 
those leading out of Omaha, and this necessarily caused great 
delay at the start. By the time the Platte valley was reached 
the Union Pacific was far behind the Kansas Pacific in the 
race, but when Durant struck the level country he caused his 
enterprise to shoot ahead very rapidly, and the result was that 
the Union Pacific arrived at the one hundredth meridian ahead 
of its competitor. This victory gave Durant the right to con- 
struct the entire main line to a connection with the Central 
Pacific, which was being rapidly built eastward. While Stan- 
ford was aiming to make the connection in the vicinity of Salt 
Lake, Durant reached that locality first and pushed on beyond 
it to Promontory, where he met the Central Pacific. The re- 
sult was that the Central Pacific was forced to buy the Union 
Pacific road from Promontory back to Ogden. Durant dic- 
tated his own terms as he was absolute master of the situation. 

Some years ago a prominent pioneer, now dead, related 
to me an incident in the career of Durant that illustrated his 
determined character. This incident had a great effect subse- 
quently upon the relations of the Union Pacific and the West- 
ern Union Telegraph company. When the road was completed 
beyond Columbus, Durant arranged an excursion to which 
many congressmen, senators and prominent eastern capitalists 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 319 

were invited. The excursionists camped on the Pawnee reser- 
vation and the Pawnees were engaged to give a war dance and 
a general exhibition of Indian customs. 

General Superintendent Snyder, at the request of Durant, 
asked the manager of the Western Union office in Omaha to 
accompany the excursionists and transmit all personal messages 
for the party, and also send dispatches to the Associated Press, 
of which he was the agent. At first W. H. Hibbard, the dis- 
trict superintendent, consented to allow the local manager to 
go with the party, but when the time arrived for the excur- 
sion to start Hibbard cancelled the permit on the ground that 
the wires were working badly. The fact was that Hibbard 
was offended. Snyder expressed his indignation in no un- 
measured terms. 

As luck would have it, a storm came up and the wires 
between Columbus and Omaha became badly tangled and the 
excursionists were cut off from all communication with the 
east. Upon returning to Omaha, Durant, boiling over with 
wrath and revenge, ordered Snyder at once to dismiss Condon, 
the first telegraph superintendent of the Union Pacific, and 
to take the railroad wires out of the Western Union office. 
"We shall see, presently, who is the bigger, the Western Union 
or the Union Pacific," said Durant, who swore that the West- 
ern Union should never touch the Union Pacific road while 
he was connected with it. And it never did. The war between 
the two corporations at once began and continued for ten years. 
It cost the Western Union several million dollars. Durant 
refused transportation to all Western Union employees from 
superintendents down to line repairers, and compelled the com- 
pany to pay enormous rates for carrying its poles, wire and 
other material. Besides this, trains were not allowed to st.>p 
between stations and no accommodations of any kind could be 
had from the railway company. Finally the Union Pacific 

lines were leased to tlu- Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph company, 
in opposition to the Western Union, and the latter company 

was obliged to buy the \tlantic v\ Pacific lines before it COUld 
have the US€ < >\ the n»ad. 

The honor of driving the golden Spike which united the 

Union Pacific and Central Pacific at Promontory was 



320 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

appropriately accorded to Vice-President Durant, and the gol- 
den spike was presented to him as a souvenir of the momentous 
and happy occasion. 

But there was serious trouble ahead for Dr. Durant. His 
east-bound train, returning from the railroad wedding, was 
halted at Piedmont by 300 graders and tie cutters who had been 
discharged but who had not been paid. The train was side- 
tracked, the engine was uncoupled, and the cars containing the 
Union Pacific officials and their guests were put under guard, 
and a demand was made on Durant for the back pay, amount- 
ing to over $200,000. Durant told the men that he had no 
ready money with which to settle the account and that he was 
in no way to blame for the condition of affairs. Durant was 
held as hostage for two days, and after keeping the wires hot 
all this time finally succeeded in raising the money necessary 
for the ransom. 

That episode virtually ended Durant's active connection 
with the Union Pacific. It is claimed that he was double- 
crossed by irresponsible sub-contractors. 

The money that released Durant from his captivity was 
forwarded through the Omaha National bank, which had be- 
come the general disbursing agent for all funds used in the con- 
struction of the Union Pacific. This important business fell 
to this bank through a chance acquaintance of Senator Millard, 
then a young man, with Oliver Ames in 1864. Mr. Millard 
was a passenger in the stage coach from Boone, Iowa, return- 
ing to Omaha from Chicago. Among the other passengers was 
Oliver Ames, who, in the course of conversation, asked the 
name of Mr. Millard, where he hailed from, and what business 
he was engaged in. 

"My name is Millard and I am connected with a bank in 
Omaha," was the reply. 

"My name is Oliver Ames," said the stranger. 

This was Mr. Millard's introduction to Oliver Ames, and 
he said to the writer of this story that he felt quite "set tip" 
when he found himself in the company n\ such an eminent 
financier, whom he endeavored to the best of his ability to 
entertain with facts about Omaha, the Union Pacific and the 
west. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 321 

"Mr. Millard, how would you like to have me take some 
stock in your bank?" asked Ames. 

"It would please our people very much," replied Mr 
Millard. 

"Well, I'll buy fifty shares," said Ames, who at once drew 
a check for $5,000 and handed it over. That stock is still in 
the possession of the Ames estate and is valued at $250,000. 
It was in this way that the Millard bank, which was organized 
as a national bank in 186'6, became the handler of the vast 
sums of money expended in the building of the Union Pacific. 

After the completion of the road in 1869 the company 
had a large number of debts in this section of the country, 
among which was $100,000 due the Omaha National bank. 
Two of the company's officers — John Duff of Boston and Mr. 
Bushnell of New Haven — were sent to Omaha to make a settle- 
ment by giving long-time promissory notes. Mr. Millard took 
his claim of $100,000 to the old state house on Ninth street, 
which was then occupied as Union Pacific headquarters. A fter 
the note for the amount of the claim had been handed over, 
Millard turned to Duff and said: "If you will indorse this 
note 1 will allow you 5 per cent." Duff shrugged his shouders 
and replied: "I don't propose to be guarantor for any such 
paper as that." Bushnell thereupon intervened and said: "I'll 
indorse that note for S percent." "All right, I'll pay it to you," 
responded Mr. Millard, who had him do the indorsing then 
and there, and then gave him a check for 85,000. Bushnell 
pocketed the cheek and left the room, and Duff, grinning 
broadly, said to Millard: "Didn't yon know that his indorse- 
ment isn't worth a damn? He isn't worth 5 cents." 

However, the note was ultimately paid. This incident 
illustrates the financial condition of the road at the time of its 
d >mpletion. 

"Few people today can realize the struggle that was made 
to start the Union Pacific," said Mr. Millard, in relating his 
reminescences. "The nearest railroad point was Boone, 
Iowa. The tics that were laid in the first track were cut from 
cottonwood trees north of Omaha and raited down the river. 

They were pulled out oi the Stream and were then burnet 

at alx-ut the foot of Dodge street It was at that spot that 



ID 



322 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

track laying began and the first trains were run out of Omaha. 
The first rails, which would not be considered rails at all at 
the present time, were shipped from England to the mouth 
of the Mississippi and thence up that stream and the Missouri 
to Omaha. The first locomotive, built either in Pittsburg or 
Cincinnati, came by steamer on the Ohio, Mississippi and Mis- 
souri rivers. That locomotive today would be a curio for a 
museum. So also would one of the passenger trains. 

"At the time the road was opened there was no known coal 
mines along the line, and very few persons, if any, had any 
idea that coal would be discovered to any great extent. The 
engines were fired with wood — mostly cedar from the adjacent 
bluffs. General Dodge, the chief engineer, kept a guard of 
soldiers on each side of the track as it progressed to protect 
the workmen from the Indians. When we consider the diffi- 
culties that the promoters of this enterprise had in starting 
the railroad it is not to be wondered that aid was asked from 
congress in the way of bonds and lands. 

"Oliver Ames was president of the Union Pacific, while 
his brother, Oakes Ames, was a member of congress from 
Massachusetts. It was difficult to secure the legislation re- 
quired to issue the bonds of the company, and an investigation 
was ordered with a view of uncovering an alleged corruption 
that was being carried on by representatives of the company 
through Oakes Ames. This investigation was made by what 
was known as the Poland committee. Among the witnesses 
was Horace F. Clark of New York, who was a member of the 
Vanderbilt family. 'Mr. Clark, had you been in the position 
that Mr. Ames was at the time this legislation was started, 
what would you have done?' he was asked. His answer, which 
will be found in the proceedings of the Poland committee, was 
in substance this : 'Had I been traveling in Italy with my 
daughter, and the brigands from the mountains had taken her 
from me, and then sent me word that on receipt of so much 
money they would restore her to me, I would have sent the 
money.' " 

"The undertaking of this great work at that time," con- 
tinued Senator Millard, "was one of the wonders of the age. 
At times it was almost impossible for the company to obtain 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



323 



the funds necessary to pay for the grading, ties and rails." 
Oakes Ames was called upon by Lincoln in 1864 to take 
hold of the Union Pacific, which at that time was in financial 
distress. Ames responded by investing $1,000,000, raising an 
additional $1,500,000, putting all the resources of his immense 
factory at the road's disposal, and in fact risking his entire 
fortune. His position as congressman, a director in both the 




MM 

ma 



mm^mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm 

Ollkl'S \lll«N 

( redit Mobilier and the Union Pacific, and contractor for 
immense supplies for the road, caused the investigation of his 
operations, resulting in a sever< ure in 1873 l>\ congress, 

fie died ten week- later. He was the ablest manager that the 
Union Pacific had during the construction period. 

His son Oliver was elected lieutenant governor of Mas 



324 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

chusetts in 1882, having entered public life for the sole purpose 
of vindicating his father's memory, and in 1883 he induced 
the legislature to re-examine the case and to pass a resolution 
exonerating Mr. Ames. He served four years as lieutenant 
governor and then was elected governor in 188^. He spent 
several years in paying off the millions of dollars of debt in- 
curred by the Union Pacific and his other undertakings. 

The Union Pacific erected a massive monument of gran- 
ite to the memory of Oakes Ames at Sherman, Wyoming, the 
summit of the road, 8,550 feet above the level of the sea. The 
track has been moved a considerable distance north of the 
monument which is not now observable from the passing trains. 

Fred Ames, son of Oliver, was one of the most important 
members of the Union Pacific family until his death. The 
son of Fred was named Oliver after his grandfather, and he 
and two associates now have charge of the Ames estate, one 
of the largest estates in Massachusetts. This estate has from 
the early days been the owner of valuable property in the busi- 
ness district of Omaha. 

While the Douglas street bridge was in the course of 
construction in 1888 there came a halt in the work owing to 
a lack of funds. At about that time Fred L. Ames appeared 
upon the scene and was asked for financial assistance. He 
promptly replied by investing $400,000 in the enterprise. That 
money paid for the completion of the bridge., which has proved 
of untold benefit to Omaha, and has been a fairly profitable 
investment for the stockholders. The Ames money is still in 
the bridge. Council Bluffs promised to levy a tax of $90,000 as 
its share of the project. The sum of $65,000 was collected 
and turned over to the treasurer of the proposed bridge com- 
pany. But when the company was incorporated under the 
laws of Nebraska a mighty howl was raised by the Council 
Bluffites, who brought suit for the return of the money. They 
won, and the treasurer turned back to them their $65,000. The 
bridge, the street car right of way, and track cost in the 
neighborhood of $1,000,000. 

General Dodge declared that nothing but the faith and 
pluck of the Ames brothers, fortified with their extensive credit, 
carried the Union Pacific through to its completion. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 325 

The part that George Francis Train played in the promo- 
tion of the Union Pacific has been greatly overestimated. Such 
is the opinion of well informed men who were well acquainted 
with the erratic genius. He was the press agent of Durant, the 
first leader in the gigantic undertaking. In that capacity, it is 
admitted, that he was of considerable assistance. However, 
some of the old-timers of an iconoclastic turn of mind will 
persist in calling him a wind-bag — a hot air artist. Train 
claimed the credit of building the Cozzens house in two months 
and maintained that in its day it was one of the handsomest 
hotels in the country — an ornament to Omaha, etc. The fact 
is, that although the idea of erecting this frame building may 
have come to him on the spur of the moment as a revenge for a 
slightly provoking incident that occurred in the Herndon 
house, the money was furnished by Seth Hale, a wealthy New 
Haven jeweler, whose main office was in New York. 

In 1865 Train purchased from the Kountze brothers and 
Samuel E. Rogers 500 acres of land in the southeast part of 
Omaha, and eighty acres in the northeast corner of this tract 
he named Credit Foncier addition, and platted it into town 
lots. But the property was not paid for in full — with the ex- 
ception of Credit Foncier addition — and eventually passed 
into the possession of the original owners by foreclosure. Train 
always maintained thai he owned city lots in Omaha worth 
$30,000,000. 

In 1876 he was sued for $47,660 by George I'. Bemis for 
services rendered as his private secretary, dating back to 1864, 
his salary being $5,000 a year. This was a balance due, Bemis 
having been paid $17,974. Bemis got judgment for the full 
amount of his claim, which was satisfied in part by levying 
upon Credit Foncier addition. Train was a frequent visitor 
in Omaha and was always cordially received. lie was as 
graceful as a dancing master, was a dandy in his dress, invari- 
ably wore- a flower in his lapel, and always presented a neat 
and hands* 'ine appearance. 1 le was a man < >f ready wit, cutting 

sarcasm, and quick repartee. Peter Her. the distiller, had de 

nounced him as an anarchist the day that he was in the city to 

deliver a lecture. "My fellow Citizens, I have been informed 

that Pete Her has referred to me as an anarchist/' said frain. 



326 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

in the course of his lecture, "and in reply allow me to say that 
there is more anarchy in one barrel of Peter Iler's whisky than 
there is in 10,000 George Francis Trains." 

Train had a remarkable career. In early manhood he 
was a succesful merchant and extended his trade to all parts 
of the world. He interested English capital in the building 
of the Atlantic & Great Western railway, and undertook the 
introduction of street railways in London and other European 
capitals. He was a globe trotter. 

Train was imprisoned several times on various charges, 
none being very serious. He advertised himself as an inde- 
pendent candidate for president. He was an entertaining 
writer. Among his books are : "An American Merchant in 
Europe, Asia and Australia," "Young America Abroad," 
"Young America in Wall Street," "Young America on Slav- 
ery," "Irish Independency," "Championship of Women," and 
"My Life in Many States and Foreign Lands." This last book 
is well written and is intensely interesting and instructive from 
cover to cover. 

I have it in my library. On the fly leaf is a "dedication" 
to me in blue pencil and written something like a Chinese wash 
bill, and almost as difficult to decipher or translate as Egyptian 
hieroglyphics. If any evidence is wanting to prove that George 
Francis Train was extremely eccentric — or somewhat crazy — 
this blue pencil "dedication" will go far to convince any one 
that he was to some decree mentally unbalanced. Nevertheless 
he was a wonderful man. 

Train is thus described by the late George D. Prentiss, 
editor of The Louisville Journal, one of the most brilliant 
writers of his time : 

"A locomotive that has run off the track, turned upside 
down with its cowcatcher buried in a stump and the wheels 
making a thousand revolutions a minute — a kite in the air 
which has lost its tail — a human novel without a hero — a man 
who climbs a tree for a bird's nest out on the limb, and in order 
to get it, saws the limb off between himself and the tree — a 
ship without a rudder — a sermon that is all text — a panto- 
mime of words — an arrow shot into the air — the apotheosis 
of talk — the incarnation of gab. Handsome, vivacious, ver- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 327 

satile, muscular, as neat as a cat, clean to the marrow, a judge 
of the effect of clothes, frugal in food and regular only in 
habits. A noonday mystery, a solved conundrum — a practical 
joke in earnest — a cipher wanting a figure to pass for some- 
thing; with the brains of twenty men in his head all pulling in 
different ways ; not bad as to heart, but a man who has shaken 
hands with reverence. " 

A son of George Francis Train — named after his father 
— died in San Francisco in September, 1922. He was for many 
years secretary and treasurer of Bullock & Jones Co., high 
class tailors. Although he was crippled by disease and unable 
to walk he was always very cheerful, and made many friends 
by his courteous conduct. 




CHAPTER XXXIII 



FIRST UNION PACIFIC TRAIN ROBBERY 



SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS IN GOLD TAKEN TWO OF THE ROB- 
BERS ARE TRAILED BY M. F. LEACH AND KILLED BY A SQUAD 

OF SOLDIERS ANOTHER IS SHOT TO DEATH IN MISSOURI A 

FOURTH MEETS A VIOLENT DEATH IN TEXAS PART OF THE 

PLUNDER IS RECOVERED. 

4 'No 4 has been robbed of $60,000 at this station." 

This startling dispatch was received at Union Pacific 
headquarters at a late hour on the night of September 18, 1877, 
and came from Big Springs, a small, isolated station, consist- 
ing of the depot, the agent's house, the water tank, and the 
section house — 361 miles west of Omaha. This brief dispatch 
was soon followed by telegrams giving details of the holdup. 
General Superintendent S. H. H. Clark immediately notified all 
stations on the Union Pacific and offered a reward of $10,000 
for the capture of the robbers and the recovery of the money 
or a proportionate amount for either. 

The money was part of a shipment from San Francisco 
to New York. Skilled detectives from Omaha, Chicago, St. 
Louis and elsewhere were sent to the front, but it was an un- 
known inexperienced young man who trailed the robbers and 
gave the information that resulted in the death of nearly the 
entire gang and the recovery of a large part of the money. 

It was a bright moonlight night. A short time before 
the arrival of the train two masked men entered the depot and, 
with revolvers leveled, commanded Agent Barnhart to dis- 
mantle his telegraph instruments. The order was obeyed 
and Barnhart was then told to hang out the red light and to get 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



329 



his mail ready as usual. In a few minutes the train was halted 
by the red light signal. Two of the masked bandits covered 
Engineer Vrooman and his fireman with revolvers and the 
fire in the engine was extinguished. The engineer and fire- 
man were then put in charge of a guard. The baggagemen 
opened the door of their car but instantly closed it at the com- 
mand of one of the robbers. At this time the express car was 
being looted, entrance having been gained through the order 
of Agent Barnhart to open the door, he having been com- 
manded by the bandits to give the order. Express Messenger 
Miller was disarmed and told to open the through safe, but 
this he could not do as the combination was known only at 
the terminals of the road. 

They brutally assaulted him and threatened to shoot him. 
Conductor Patterson, while being put under guard with other 
trainmen, convinced the bandits that Miller was telling the 
truth, and thereupon they ceased pounding him. 




r 




■'<& 






3^ v 




I In- luimlifx in riimp |IItMIMB <l>*' pl niiilrr 

The three robbers in the express car bad almost given up 
hop* ecuring an) valuable booty when one of them noti 
three strong lookin on the floor and al once knocked 

off the ealing the gold contents. It \\a^ a big sur- 

prise t< i the trii i 



330 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



"God! a bonanza at last!" exclaimed one of the "road 
agents." 

"Struck it rich!'' said another, as he knelt down and 

picked up a handful of the bright coins. 

"Hustle it out quick !" suggested the third. 

Each box contained $20,000 in $20 pieces, and the three 
boxes weighed a total of 280 pounds. They were lifted out 
of the car and turned over to the guard. There was $300,000 
in bullion in the car, but it was too heavy to be carried away. 

The robbery of the passengers in the coaches followed. 
The Pullman passengers, however, escaped loss as the 
doors of their cars were securely locked. As the robbers saw 
a freight train approaching they jumped off, and at the ur- 
gent request of Conductor Patterson the freight was signalled 
to stop, thus preventing a collision. 

A few minutes later the outlaws mounted their horses and 
galloped away with their plunder. Agent Barnhart then re- 
paired his telegraph instruments and wired the first news of 
the robbery to Omaha. At first the raid was charged up to 
the Jesse James and his followers, but it was soon learned that 
the bandit gang came from the Black Hills and was a new 
organization of "knights of the road." 

There happened to be one passenger who positively recog- 
nized the leader notwithstanding his mask. This pas- 
senger, who was relieved of a small amount of money, was 
Andrew Riley, brother of Edward Riley of Omaha. He knew 
the man personally. His voice, figure, and movement gave him 
away. 

Riley, upon his arrival in Omaha the next afternoon, in- 
formed the officials of the railroad that the man was Joel Col- 
lins with whom he had traveled to the Black Hills in 1876. 
Two weeks before the robbery Riley met Collins in Ogallala. 
He was a Texan and came from a very respectable family 
living in Dallas. Eor two or three years Collins had been 
traveling down grade on the road to ruin. In the spring of 
1876 he drove a herd of cattle up to Nebraska and beat the 
owner out of the proceeds of the sale of the property. In the 
fall of the same year he obtained 150 cows from his brother 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 331 

in Texas and drove them to the Black Hills and there sold 
them. 

It was on this trip that Andrew Riley happened to become 
acquainted with him. After selling the cows Collins started 
a dance hall in Deadwood, and it became the resort of the most 
dangerous characters in the Black Hills. It was from among 
these desperadoes that he selected the members of his gang, 
and it was suspected that he began his career as a highway- 
man by robbing several stage coaches. Collins occasionally 
appeared at Red Cloud and Spotted Tail Indian agencies in 
the role of a cattle drover, and it so happened that a man doing 
business at one of these agencies was a passenger on the robbed 
train, and he, too, knew Collins and corroborated Riley's state- 
ment. 

About four weeks previous to the train robbery Collins 
arrived in Ogallala, which was then a meeting place for Texas 
cattle drovers and cowboys generally. A few days later five 
horsemen rode into the town, having come down from the 
Black Hills. They were the men whom Collins had enlisted 
to engage in the robbery, which he had planned. 

Ogallala, eighteen miles east of Big Springs, was a wild 
and woolly town in those days, and many riotous scenes of 
shooting and scraps of all kinds occurred there almost daily 
and nightly. In pure deviltry ( )gallala at that time far eclipsed 
Julesburg in its palmiest days. 

In the early part of the evening of the robbery Collins 
and his pals were gambling and drinking, but each one slyly 
withdrew and. mounting his horse, rode rapidly t<» Big Springs. 
The robbery having been Successfully carried out tin- bandits 

returned to Ogallala and quietly resumed their carousing and 
at a late hour retired. 

During the next day the robbers left ( tgallala one by one, 

their departure creating no suspicion. They met at the spot 
where they had secreted their plunder, and taking the gold with 

them they dug their spurs into their horses and soon joined 
some cowboys who had started from Ogallala early in the 
morning with a herd of cattle for Fori Ellis, Kansas for ship- 
ment to Kansas ( uy. 

The next nighl after the holdup E M Morsman, who 



332 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



was general superintendent of the Pacific Express company 
reached Ogallala and took into his confidence a young man 
named AJ. F. Leech, who was engaged in business in the town, 
and who had resided there about three years. 

Leech had had some successful detective experience some 
years previously in ferreting out the crooked work of a Ken- 
tucky whisky ring. He had also been in the service of the 
Union Pacific as a telegraph operator. Leech, having been 
given all the information in the possession of Mr. Morsman, 
who knew that Collins was the leader of the band, started on 
horseback on the trail three days after the robbers had left 
Ogallala. 

On the night of September 3d Collins and his companions 
camped in a thicket near a creek, having separated from the 
cowboys with whom they had been traveling. Late in the 
night Leech came within a short distance of the camp, and 
dismounting he cautiously crept to within a few feet of their 
resting place and found them all asleep. 

Leech recognized every one of the sleeping robbers. They 
were Joel Collins, Sam Bass, James Berry, Will Heffridge, 
Jack Davis and Tom Nixon. The stolen gold was lying on 
the ground in a seamless grain sack which they had purchased 
in Ogallala the evening before the robbery. Had the gold 
been divided into small packages Leech could have carried it 
all away. With catlike tread Leech returned to his horse and, 
securely tying him, he went to sleep. Early in the morning 
Collins and his band were on the move. 

Leech engaged a runner at a nearby ranch and sent him 
into Ogallala with the important information that he had ob- 
tained. That night Leech again crept up to the bandit's camp 
and overheard their conversation, which was about their dar- 
ing exploit. 

He also witnessed the division of the gold. One of the 
band remarked that "this beats holding up stage coaches." 
They all made their plans for separation, and each announced 
his destination, and declared the intention of dying game rather 
than be arrested. Each man sewed his share of the coin in 
the legs of his overalls. Next morning they were again in 
the saddle, and Leech followed on their trail. At sunset he 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 333 

ran onto Collins and Berry at a ranch. He at once turned his 
horse and rode away at a rapid gallop, and a few moments 
later dashed through the camp of the robbers who were tak- 
ing a nap. Although awakened by a shout from Collins the 
bandits were so completely confused that Leech got out of 
gun range before they recovered from their surprise. 

The robbers separated, according to the plan of the night 
previous. Collins and Heffridge took the trail for Texas, and 
two others headed for the south. Leech picked up the trail 
of two of them, one of whom was Berry. 

Acting on information received from Leech, Superin- 
tendent Clark requested General Williams, adjutant general 
of the Department of the Platte, to telegraph to General 
Pope to have troops scout along the line of the Kansas Pacific, 
which the thieves would be obliged to cross in going south. The 
Kansas Pacific station agents were also directed to keep a 
sharp lookout. 

On the morning of September 26th Collins and Heffridge 
mde into Buffalo, a watertank station. In a nearby ravine 
Sheriff Beardsley of Hays and a posse of ten cavalrymen had 
been encamped for two da] 

In paying for some provisions in a store Collins accident- 
ally exposed an envelope bearing his name. The storekeeper. 
who was the station agent, said: "Is your name Joel Collins 

"Yes, that's my name," replied the yet unsuspecting bandit. 
"Oh, yes; 1 remember you," remarked the agent carelessly; 
"you passed up this way a year or two ago, didn't you?" 

"Yes, sir." ( lollins answered. 

"I thought I had seen you before," said the agent. 

1 ollins and Heffridge mounted their horses and started 
southward, and the station agenl at once notified Sheriff 
Beardsley, who rode oul from the ravine and intercepted them. 
holding them in ordinary conversation for a few minutes and 
then allowing them to proceed without having given them any 
cause For suspicion as to \\b'> he was. Returning to the ravine 
the sheriff soon reappeared with the squad of cavalry under 
command of Lieutenant Allen and soon overtook and halted 
the bandit-, who were charged with answering t<» the descrip- 
tion of the I ni< -n I 'acific tram n »bt> 



334 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



Collins insisted that there must be a mistake and volun- 
teered to return to the station and have it cleared away. They 
had ridden only a short distance towards the station when 
Collins spoke to Heffridge in a very low tone, and the next 
instant both men attempted to draw their revolvers. They 
were being closely watched and this movement on their part 
was the signal for the soldiers to open fire. 




The, killing of Collins ami his partner 

Collins and Heffridge fell from their horses, having been 
killed instantly. On their pack horses were two sacks, made 
of overall legs, containing $20,000 in gold of the mintage of 
1877. 

The bodies of the bandits were taken to Ellis for burial 
and among the spectators who viewed the corpses was a Mrs. 
Jacobs, who, when she looked at that of Heffridge, exclaimed : 
"He was my husband !" She stated that he had several aliases. 
Mrs. Jacobs was a widow when she married Heffridge, but 
when she learned that he had a wife in Pennsylvania she left 
him. She had not seen him for 18 months. Heffridge was 
originally from Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and frequently called 
himself William Potts. He was a most daring desperado and 
had committed many bold crimes. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 335 

Leech, who had learned the destination of each of the 
robbers while secretly listening to their conversation at their 
last camping place, was now sent to Callaway county, Mis- 
souri, to search for Berry. 

At a late hour in the night of October 8th a shabbily 
dressed passenger with a pair of saddle bags thrown carelessly 
across his left arm stepped off the train at Mexico. His hair 
hung in tangled mats about his shoulders, and his beard was 
untrimmed. At the hotel he registered as James Berry. Xext 
morning he sold $3,000 in gold to each of three Mexico banks, 
and at one of the banks he deposited $1,600 to his own credit. 

It so happened that an old Missourian, who was interested 
in one of the banks, took a look at the gold after Berry's de- 
parture, and instantly concluded that it was a part of the Un- 
ion Pacific loot, and not the proceeds of the sale of a mining 
claim in the Black Hills as Berry had stated. Berry, who was 
known to this Missourian, had the reputation of being any- 
thing but an honest man. 

He remained several days in Mexico, spending his time 
in drinking and gambling and at every opportunity display- 
ing his money and boasting of his wealth. He walked the 
streets with his revolver strapped to an outside belt, and no 
officer dared arrest him for carrying a weapon as he was 
known to be "a bad man with a gun." lb- had been one of 
the most desperate of a company of rough fighters who had 
followed the fortunes of Hill Anderson (luring the civil war. 
lie had three brothers in Callaway county who were dan- 
gerous characters. I Jerry, after a few days of unalloyed 
pleasure, departed for his home. 

The next day an express agent in Mexico wrote to Super- 
intendent Morsman at Omaha informing him of Berry's gold 
transactions and the suspicions that had arisen. Mr. Morsman 

at once went to Mexico and engaged Sheriff Glasscock of 

Audrian county, to undertake the capture of Berry, (ilasv- 

cock and a companion proceeded t<> the Callaway county home 
of tin- fugitive but failed to find him. The much-wanted man 
had been informed of the suspicions regarding himself and 
had retreated into the depths of a dense forest. < toe evening 
Sherifl Glasscock, who had returned to Mexico, was informed 



336 



Til E STORY OF OMAHA 



that a man named Bose Casey was in town to get a suit of 
clothes which had been left at a clothing store by Berry. Casey 
was taken into custody and was compelled at the point of a 
gun to lead Glasscock and a posse of three men to the place 
where Berry was hiding. When within half a mile of Casey's 
house they tied Casey to a tree and put him in charge of a 
guard. 

It was not quite daylight when a horse in Casey's barn- 
yard began whinnying, and was answered by another horse 
in the woods nearly a mile away. Sheriff Glasscock suspected 
that the answer came from Berry's horse, and taking one of 




Tlie capture of Berry 

his men with him he silently crept towards the spot whence the 
responsive whinny had come. 

After crawling about 300 yards they came upon fresh 
horse tracks and the next moment heard the snort of a horse 
near by. 

It was the death knell of James Berry. Proceeding a 
short distance on his hands and knees Sheriff Glasscock saw 
the back of the horse about 140 yards away. The animal was 
tied to a tree in a small open space, surrounded by a dense 
thicket. Goijig twenty yards farther he saw Berry not twenty 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 337 

feet from the horse. He had just risen from his bed of blankets. 
He untied his horse, and was about to lead it to water, when 
Glasscock stepped into the open and covered him with a cocked 
double-barrel shotgun and ordered him to throw up his hands. 

The surprised bandit bounded away with the fleetness of 
a deer. He refused to halt at the command of the officer, who, 
after firing several wide shots, took a low deliberate aim and 
landed eight buckshot in the legs and thighs of the fugitive. 

After a search of the prisoner, resulting in the uncovering 
of $2,800, he was taken to the Casey dwelling. Sheriff Glass- 
cock then proceeded to the Berry home and informed Mrs. 
lierry of the capture and wounding of her husband, whom she 
had not seen for several days. 

"He told me many times that he would never be captured 
alive," said Mrs. Berry. , 

Berry was taken into Mexico to receive medical attention, 
and a few days later, when death was near at hand, he made 
a confession of his crime, the details of which agreed with the 
information that had been obtained by Leech. However, he 
did not reveal the names or homes of the three bandits who 
were yet at liberty. 

Sam r*a>> was traced to Texas and in resisting arrest was 
shot and killed by an officer. Jack Davis, who had accom- 
panied Bass, fled into old Mexico and was never heard of 
again. Tom Nixon escaped into Canada, and as there was no 
extradition treaty at that time with that country he was safe 
from arrest SO long a- he remained there. 

( The alx .\e chapter is a c< >ndensati< m < >f a st< >ry written by 
Alfred Sorenson in the fall of 1877, and published by Barka- 
low Brothers in a booklet of 150 pages, a second edition being 
issued by C. B. Dillingham, a New York publisher. The il- 
lustrations are reproductions of wood engravings which ap- 
peared in the two editions, i 



CHAPTER XXXIV 



PIONEER BENCH AND BAR 



THERE WERE LEGAL GIANTS IN THE EARLY DAYS ANDREW 

JACKSON POPPLETON FIRST LAWYER IN OMAHA MANY 

MEMBERS OF THE PIONEER BAR ROSE TO EMINENCE AND WON 

A NATIONAL REPUTATION THE LEGAL FRATERNITY HAD 

MUCH TO DO WITH THE FORMATION OF THE COMMONWEALTH 
OF NEBRASKA SOME INTERESTING INCIDENTS. 

Among the pioneers of Omaha and Nebraska the mem- 
bers of the bench and bar figured prominently in the formative 
period of the territory and in its development into a great state. 
Many of the pioneer lawyers rose to eminence not only in their 
profession but in politics and citizenship. The Omaha bar of 
early days included men who in time acquired a national repu- 
tation as jurists of great ability and wonderful acumen. 

The territory was divided into three judicial districts by 
proclamation on December 20, 1854. Fenner Ferguson, who 
was appointed the first chief justice of the supreme court, was 
assigned to the first district, composed of Douglas and Dodge 
counties. At that time Sarpy county was a part of Douglas. 
Edward R. Hardin, associate justice, presided over the second 
district, which took in all that portion of the territory lying 
south of the Platte river. The third district included Wash- 
ington and Burt counties, and was under the jurisdiction of 
James Bradley, associate justice. Judges of probate, justices 
of the peace, sheriffs, constables, and clerks of the court and 
other officials were designated for the several counties. 

The pioneer lawyer of Omaha was Andrew Jackson 
Poppleton. He came here from Michigan equipped with a 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



339 



legal and general education. It was on October 13th, 1854, that 
he arrived in Council Bluffs, and the next day he visited the 
site of Omaha. Meeting with no one whom he knew and not 
having heard of any person whom he had previously known 
he became discouraged and recrossed the river to Council 
Bluffs. He could see no work in Omaha for a lawyer. There 
were not more than twenty people there, and there were no 
courts, no laws, and no government. But as Mr. Poppleton 
was approaching Council Bluffs on foot he was greatly sur- 



^<*^~^^ 




\ ii «1 1«- >> .linkMiii Popple •<»•» 



prised as well as pleased to meet a man who had been his fel- 
low law student in Michigan. This man was Andrew Jackson 
I [anscom, who was t< » beo >me a leader in the alt airs of ( )maha. 
He was driving a wagon loaded with lumber and was <»n his 
wa\ to Omaha, where he had decided t<> permanently locate 

This meeting in the lonely roadway was the turn in the 
tide of the affairs oi Poppleton and led on to tame and n >rtune, 
Hanscom, upon learning oi the dismal \icw taken by Popple- 
ton, told him t li.it the territorial government was about to ho 
organized, that an election for members of the legislature 



340 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

would soon be held, and that there would be plenty of law 
business owing to disputes about land claims and boundaries. 
Furthermore, Hanscom assured Poppleton that he and himself 
could be elected members of the legislature. Poppleton, thus 
influenced, concluded to remain for a while at least, and a few 
days later secured a lot in Omaha and began building a small 
frame office. Origen D. Richardson, Omaha's second pioneer 
lawyer, now appeared upon the scene, having come from Michi- 
gan. Poppleton proposed to him to join in the erection of the 
cabin and share in its occupation. 

Hanscom and Poppleton were elected members of the 
lower house of the legislature and became leaders in that or- 
ganization. Mr. Richardson was elected a member of the 
upper house, or council, as it was called. These three men 
from Michigan wielded great influence and became prominent 
factors in the upbuilding of Omaha during their active careers. 
Poppleton did not have to wait long for business. He was 
called upon to appear in the first law suit tried in Nebraska. 
It was the case of Pentecost versus Wood, involving a land 
claim. Poppleton was the attorney for the plaintiff, and he won. 
The defendant was represented by Richardson. From that 
time Poppleton never lacked for clients ; neither did Richardson. 

Mr. Poppleton was associated with O. P. Mason of Ne- 
braska City in the first murder case that occurred in .the terri- 
tory. Dr. C. A. Henry, a brother-in-law of James E. Boyd, 
shot George Hollister at Bellevue in a land dispute in the spring 
of 1855. The grand jury refused to indict Dr. Henry as the 
evidence showed that he had acted in self defense. 

In the spring of 1858 Mr. Poppleton was elected mayor 
of Omaha, but was soon compelled to resign on account of ill- 
ness. This was the only public office that he ever held. At 
the earnest solicitation of his democratic friends he ran for 
congressman in 1868, but was defeated by John Taffe. 

At the breaking of ground for the Union Pacific, Decem- 
ber 2, 1863, Mr. Poppleton made a most eloquent address, 
attracting the greatest attention and eliciting unstinted praise. 
Portions of his speech were published in The London Daily 
News. It is reproduced in full in a previous chapter of this 
history. Mr. Poppleton's reward soon came in an offer for 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 341 

him to take charge of the company's legal business in Nebraska, 
which he accepted. In 1869 he was made the general attorney 
of the road and continued in that position until his resignation 
in February, 1888. He had served the Union Pacific twenty- 
four years. 

Mr. Poppleton now devoted himself to private practice, 
and was engaged in important litigations until the summer of 
1892, when he became totally blind, his eyesight having gradu- 
ally failed for some time. "My life of light was ended and 
my life of darkness began," wrote Mr. Poppleton at the con- 
clusion of his brief biography which he dictated near the close 
of his life, which came to an end September 24, 1896. During 
his entire career he was ranked as one of the eminent lawyers 
of the country, and was classed among Nebraska's most prom- 
inent citizens. He was the soul of honor. 

Mr. Poppleton's second law office was in the Western 
Exchange building, which stood at the southwest corner of 
Farnam and Twelfth. In 1886 he related to the writer of 
this history an interesting reminiscence of this historic corner. 
:< I had my law office in the northwest corner of the first floor 
of that building in 1855/' said he, "and I went to housekeeping 
in the southwest corner. There was a central hall, and the 
Western Exchange Fire & Marine Insurance company had its 
banking room on the easl side of this hall. It was in this hall- 
way that United States Marshal Eli R. Doyle was accidentally 
killed by falling down stairs. Ik' and his family lived in the 
upper story. I occupied my room in that building about three 
months. 1 then moved my office to a one-story brick, which 1 
had erected for that purpose, and took up my residence in a 
new dwelling at the northeast corner of Fifteenth street and 

Capitol avenue, where the exposition building was erected 
later. When I moved out of the bank building Leroy Turtle, 
cashier of the bank, took my room, and some years later be- 
came treasurer of the I faited States." 

Mr. Poppleton was a most unassuming and modest gentle- 
man. Mid that brings to mind what an old-timer told the 

writ "I came io Omaha in the summer of 1863," said he. 

"and frequently met Oil the Street a man who was in the habit 

'•i walking about town without his coat, lb- wore a red 



342 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



flannel shirt and had a very red face. From his general ap- 
pearance I took him to be a cattle dealer or a butcher. I did 
not regard him as a person of enough consequence even to 
ask what his name was. On the second day of December of 
that year I was one of the crowd at the breaking of the ground 
for the Union Pacific. Speaker after speaker was called up, 
and finally the man with the red shirt and the red face — in 



y<Z^£&$g2&& 




Orittrii D. Richardson 

response to calls for Poppleton — suddenly mounted a wagon, 
and, much to my surprise, made the most eloquent and forceful 
speech of the occasion. I then inquired who this man Popple- 
ton was and was told that he was a prominent lawyer. This 
shows that you can't always judge a man by his appearance.'' 

Origen D. Richardson was born in Vermont in 1796, 
served as a private in the Vermont volunteers in 1812 in the 
war with England, and fought in the battle of Plattsburg. In 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 343 

1829 he moved to Michigan and remained in that state twenty- 
five years. He served in both branches of the legislature and 
was lieutenant governor from 1844 to 1848. It was in Octo- 
ber, 1854, that he came to Omaha. Immediately following 
the first territorial session, in which he served as a member of 
the upper house, Mr. Richardson was appointed one of the 
commissioners to prepare a code of laws, doing nearly all the 
work himself. In 1867, upon the territory being admitted as a 
state, he prepared the revised statutes, being assisted by Mr. 
Poppleton and Mr. J. S. Sharp. Mr. Richardson died in 1878. 
He was the father of the late Lyman Richardson, who was 
for many years associated with Dr. Miller in the publication of 
The Omaha Herald. 

Mr. Poppleton paid a deserved tribute to his old friend 
Richardson, in which he said : "One of his best traits was his 
interest and sympathy with young men, students and lawyers. 
He was naturally genial and kindly to all, and never was too 
busy for a pleasant word and hearty greeting to the young. 
The impression of a noble character is never effaced, but be- 
comes a guide and monitor of youth forever." 

The name of Strickland brings to the recollection of the 
writer — as it no doubt does to the memory of others — a man 
who held a prominent place in the affairs of Omaha and Ne- 
braska — a man who was a fighter in politics, litigation, and 
war. Silas Allen Strickland's grandfather was an Allen, a 
cousin of Ethan Allen of Revolutionary fame, and his mother 
was a sister of the mother of President Millard Fillmore. 

"Old Stride," as lie was familiarly called, made his first 
appearance in Nebraska at Bellevue in October, 1854. He had 

been admitted to the bar in 1850 in Buffalo, Xew Y<>rk, but 
-pent the four ensuing years in the service of canal and rail- 
road contractors. Strickland had been in Bellevue Only a few 

weeks when he was appointed district attorney for the First 
judicial district. After about a year's service he resigned and 

was elected a member of the legislature, and from that time 

w,> a fierce fighter for the removal of the capital from Omaha 
to Bellevue or t<> Douglas City, the place where Lincoln was 
afterwards l< cated. 

The scheme failed, but Strickland and his crowd sue- 



:>44 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



ceeded in having Douglas county divided, thus forming the 
county of Sarpy. For three succeeding sessions of the legis- 
lature he was one of the most active and influential members 
of the lower house. In 1860, while a member of the upper 
house, he put forth every effort to have a bill passed for the 
prevention of slavery and involuntary servitude in the terri- 
tory. He had made a similar effort in the house the year before. 
There were at this time a few slaves in Nebraska — less than 
twentv. The principal debater on the Buchanan or slavery 






y.v: : x 




General Silas A. Strickland 

side was David D. Belden. The bill was finally passed over 
the veto of Governor Black. But that's another story and is 
told elsewhere in this history. 

When the war of the rebellion broke out Strickland re- 
signed from the legislature and assisted in recruiting the First 
Nebraska regiment. He enlisted as a private and his company 
elected him as second lieutenant. After the battles of Donel- 
son and Shiloh he resigned from the adjutancy of the regi- 
ment to which he had been promoted, and went to Cincinnati. 
While attending a meeting in that city to raise troops Strick- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 345 

land was invited to speak, and in his address he announced 
that he proposed to rejoin the army, and eloquently called upon 
all to follow him. He was immediately commissioned by Gov- 
ernor Todd as lieutenant colonel of the Fiftieth Ohio volun- 
teers. Strickland took part in many of the big battles and was 
made a brigadier general. 

In 1867 General Strickland was appointed United States 
district attorney of Nebraska and served until 1871, when he 
resigned. In that year he was president of the state constitu- 
tional convention. General Strickland was a good lawyer, a 
brilliant orator, and a popular citizen. His death occurred in 
1878. Mrs. Strickland has for many years made her home 
with her daughter, Mrs. James B. I lavnes. 

The third mayor of Omaha was David Douglas Beldcn, 
who was among the arrivals of the year 1855. 1 le came from 
northern Ohio, where he first studied law in the office of Joshua 
R. (biddings, the famous abolition congressn an. and later he 
was a student in the office of lion. Rufus I\ Ranney, who be- 
came chief justice of the supreme court. Mr. Belden was ad- 
mitted to the bar in 1846. During the six year- that he resided 
in ( )maha he was I »ne of the- m« >st pr< miinent and active citizen-. 
In the spring of 1859 he was elected unanimously by the city 
council to succeed Mayor Poppleton, who had been compelled 
to resign, owing t< i severe illness. As mayor Mr. Belden proved 
himself a man of iron nerve. Several times he was threatened 
with violence at the hands of lot jumpers who were angered at 

his rulings against their claims, lie never wavered and came 

through the troublous period with honor to himself and justice 

to all. lie was fortunately the man of the hour the man that 

was needed as chief executive of the city at that time. All 
land titles within the original town-site of Omaha are traced 

back to Mayor Belden, who had received the title of the whole 
town from the government and deeded the lots t<» those citizens 

whose claims were proven t«» be just. In the fall of 1859 May- 
or Belden was elected a member of the lower house of tin- legis- 
lature and a member of the upper house in I860, serving in the 

latter body with |. M. Thayer and T, \V Tipton 

Mr Belden was elected again t<« the upper house of the 
lature in 1862, and in the winter of 1863 resigned and 



346 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



moved to Denver, where he soon attained to the same prom- 
inence which had characterized his stay in Omaha. In 1865 
he ran for congress, but was defeated. In the fall of 1867 he 
was elected a member of the upper house of the Colorado legis- 
lature for a term of four years. He represented Gilpin county, 
and had the casting vote that moved the capital from Golden 

'■•^■'■y^SSSsSg^ '■■■■'■■ %&k ■■•:-sSs?-SS' 

' f 

w 




David D. Beldeu — third mayor of Omaha 

City to Denver. Mr. Belden again ran for congress in 1868, but 
was defeated by a small majority. It was claimed by his friends 
that he was fairly elected. 'Returning to Denver in the spring 
of 1869, he practiced law there for many years. He was 
elected city attorney in 1871 and again in 1872. The famous 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 347 

Belden mine in Eagle county was named for him, and he was 
once the owner of the property. Mr. Belden died in 1897, 
beloved and highly respected by all who knew him. He was 
an uncle of C. C. Belden of the Omaha dry goods company 
of Thompson & Belden. 

It has probably been forgotten by the surviving pioneers, 
possibly with the exception of a very few, that a lawyer, who 
was to become president of the United States, came to Omaha 
from Xew York in 1857 with the intention of locating here 
and practicing law. That lawyer was Chester A. Arthur. But 
he remained only four weeks, and during that time his principal 
occupation was a daily morning horseback ride to Florence 
and return. He concluded that Poppleton and Wool worth had 
an unbreakable monoply on the law business, and, packing his 
carpet bag, he returned to New York. 

Some years later Judge Savage, who came to Omaha in 
1867, acted as groomsman at the wedding of Arthur. Judge 
Savage was practicing law in Xew York city when the war 
broke out and after serving as an officer in the army until 1863, 
he recruited the Twelfth Xew York Cavalry regiment and went 
with it to the front as its colonel. Arthur at this time was 
quartermaster-general. It was in the courts of Xew York and 
in military circles that Judge Savage became acquainted with 
Arthur. They were intimate friends, their friendship lasting 
during their lives. 

The Herndon house, built in 1858, was named in honor 
of Lieutenant Herndon, the father of Mrs. Arthur. Me was 
in command of the steamer Central America, which was lost 

on its way from Panama to Xew York at about the time the 

Herndon was in the course of construction. 

Another distinguished lawyer, who. for a brief period was 
a resident of Omaha, was Alfred Conkling. Me spent a few 
months in Omaha in 1857, having come here, like Arthur, to 
look over the ground with a view of permanent location. But 
he. too, found that Poppleton and Woolworth corralled all 
the business, and returned i" the Empire state. Benjamin F, 
Smith oi Xew York, who was conducting a bank in Omaha 
in 1857, gave tin- writer this little reminiscence of Conkling: 

"I remember Jud inkling wr\ well lb- was ;i tall 



348 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

man with long flowing white hair. He wore a frock coat — 
which was always closely buttoned — a silk hat and white cra- 
vat. He invariably carried a cane, and had a most stately walk. 
He was a very distinguished looking man and always attracted 
great attention. Some of the rulings of the court were not 
in accord with his ideas of right and wrong. In a case that 
he was trying a decision of the court did not at all suit him. 
He arose and addressed the judge, saying: 'Your honor, this 
is the last day that I shall practice in Omaha. Good day, sir !' 
Conkling then put on his hat, picked up his cane, and walked 
out of the court room. He departed from Omaha that same 
day never to return.' ' 

Judge Conkling, after he had risen to eminence in his 
profession, was once introduced at a political meeting in New 
York as "the father of Roscoe Conkling." This made him 
furious, and he expressed his indignation in no uncertain 
words. "When I was a mere boy," he shouted, "my fellow 
citizens began to honor me with public duties, and in my early 
manhood I received larger trusts and more notable proofs of 
the esteem and admiration of my countrymen. In the diplo- 
matic service of the United State I w 7 on the approval of the 
department of state. In congress I was the confidential friend 
and intimate associate of such men as Henry Clay and John 
Randolph of Roanoke, and, as a judge, I have commanded 
the respect of the bar and the homage of the people. Through- 
out my life T have been honored and respected by men, and 
now in my old age, Cod pity me, I am nothing but the father 
of Roscoe Conkling." 

The name of Hanscom will ever be perpetuated among 
the people of Omaha by Hanscom park — a beautiful and en- 
during memorial. This was Omaha's first park, the ground 
being donated to the city in 1872 by Andrew Jackson Hans- 
com and James G. Megeath. As Mr. I [anscom gave the larger 
part of the tract the park was named in his honor. Mr. 1 1 ans- 
com, who had served as captain in the war with Mexico, came 
from Michigan to Council Bluffs in 1853, and was among the 
very first pioneers of Omaha in 1854. He was a lawyer by 
profession and practiced to a limited extent for some years 
after coming here, but he devoted most of his attention to real 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



349 



estate, in which he invested all the money he could spare. He 
was one of the very first to take up a land claim, which in a 
few years proved very valuable. Hanscom was speaker of the 
house of the first territorial legislature, and also served in the 
third and fourth sessions. He was a valiant and persistent 
fighter for Omaha for the location of the capital and its re- 
tention until Nebraska was admitted to statehood. He was a 
blunt-spoken man, and never hesitated to back his statements 




\mlr« \\ .IlirlvMin IIiiiim'.hii 



or arguments with physical force n he thought h necessan or 
advisable. 

Hanscom was one of the incorporators of the Omaha 
jtreet railway compan) which was organized in 1867 The 
horse railway bill was rushed through the legislature at the 

last moment. Six months previously tin- people had voted on 

the state constitution which prohibited from the date of its 
going mt" effect the granting of any exclusive franchise t<> 



350 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

any corporation. There was hurrying to and fro among the 
promoters of the horse railway scheme to force their bill 
through the last territorial legislature in order that the new 
state constitution would not effect the privileges granted. 

Hanscom, upon his return from the east, learned of the 
project and determined to have a hand in the game. Proceed- 
ing to the capitol, the scene of his former exploits as a mem- 
ber of the legislature, he succeeded in some mysterious way 
in having his name put into the bill as one of the incorpora- 
tors. In its amended form the bill w r as returned just as the 
doorkeeper was putting back the hands of the clock for the 
third time in order to keep the session alive. 

There was a tremendous howl from some of the incor- 
porators when they discovered Hanscom's trick, but when 
Hanscom informed them that he "would knock the everlasting 
stuffing out of the bill unless they let him in on the deal," they 
submitted, and the measure was enacted. The road eventually 
fell into the hands of Hanscom, and he at once abolished all 
free passes. When asked for a pass he responded by handing 
a nickel to the applicant. Upon this becoming known all re- 
quests for free transportation ceased. 

While in charge of the street railway he gave a great deal 
of his time to the real estate business. One day a preacher 
called on him and wanted to buy a lot on credit. 

"What security can you give me?" asked Hanscom. 

"My honor, sir," replied the preacher. 

"Well, I would have a damned hard time in foreclosing 
on that security," said Hanscom. The deal fell through. 

Soon after the introduction of the waterworks elevators 
began to be placed in business buildings. Hanscom had a row 
of seven one-story buildings on Capitol avenue, between Six- 
teenth and Seventeenth. An elevator solicitor was told by a 
joker that Hanscom wanted an elevator in his seven-story 
structure, and he accordingly called upon him. He did not 
stay long after Hanscom learned what his mission was. He 
was forcibly ejected, and was followed with a stream of pro- 
fanity such as Hanscom could turn loose whenever provoked. 

Mr. Hanscom passed the last years of his life in Xew 
York city. He was the father of Mrs. George E. Pritchett 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



351 



and grandfather of Mrs. John L. Kennedy. 

Carrying - in his inside vest pocket a commission from 
President Pierce as attorney-general of Nebraska, Experience 
Estabrook registered in Omaha early in 1855, and immediately 
entered upon the duties of his office, which he held for nearly 
five years. By virtue of his position he was recognized by 
the court — at its first session — as the only member of the bar 
in the territory, and it was upon his motion that the first bar 




i ; \ i>«' r i ('■■<■<» Eatabrook 

was admitted to practice. It has therefore been said that Esta- 
brook was tin- father of the Nebraska bar. In 1859 Estabrook 
ran for congress, and claiming the election the certificate was 
handed to him, and he served until June, I860, when he was 
unseated in favor of Samuel G. Daily, his republican contest- 
ant. In 1866 Estabrook was appointed by the governor to 
codify the laws, and at the same tunc he published Estabrook's 
I orms, a valuable legal work, He was appointed district at 



352 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

torney of the Omaha district in 1867 and held this office for 
two years. In 1871 Estabrook was a member of the constitu- 
tional convention, and the same year was employed by the board 
of managers as counsel to aid in the impeachment of Gover- 
nor Butler, who was charged with irregularities in the hand- 
ling of state funds. Governor Butler was found guilty on a 
few of the counts, and was turned out of office. 

Mr. Estabrook came to Omaha from Wisconsin, where 
he had attained prominence in his profession. He was attor- 
ney general of that state for two years. He also served a 
term in the Wisconsin legislature. In Nebraska he w r as known 
as General Estabrook, having acted as adjutant general on the 
staff of Thayer in the campaign against the Pawnee Indians 
in the summer of 1859. 

General Estabrook was a man of progressive ideas. He 
was ahvays an ardent advocate of woman suffrage. This 
measure was debated at great length in the constitutional con- 
vention of 1871, and at every opportunity General Estabrook 
argued eloquently in its behalf. At times the debate was en- 
livened with wit and sarcasm pro and con. General Strickland 
reminded General Estabrook that the wife, mother and sister 
depended upon man for support. 

"Suppose the wife is a widow?" asked Estabrook. 

"I will answer that she will look out for another man," 
replied Strickland, "and if she is pretty she will get him soon." 

In the course of one of his speeches General Estabrook 
said : "We live here, under what we may imagine to be a 
majestic oak, whose branches cover many millions of individu- 
als and protects them. That oak sprang from the smallest 
acorn. And what was it? I can describe it in four words. 
It was the origin of the government under which we live. No 
taxation without representation. That was the axiom out ^\ 
which grew the revolutionary war, and out of which the nation, 
of which w r e are a part, had its most distinguished birth." 

General Estabrook's daughter, Caroline Augusta, became 
the wife of Colonel R. C. Clowry, who was for many years 
president of the Western Union Telegraph company. His 
son, Henry Dodge Estabrook, practiced law in Omaha several 
years and then located in Chicago, and later in New York city, 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



353 



where he died in 1918. Henry Estabrook was a brilliant ora- 
tor and a fluent and polished writer. It will be remembered 
that he was a candidate for the republican nomination for 
president of the United States in 1915. 

Coming to Omaha in October, 1856, James M. Wool- 
worth at once took a prominent position in his profession and 




I.IIIM V \| \\ <>.)| X\ III I ll 



as the years rolled by his reputation as a lawyer became na- 
tional, lit- was a native of New York and a graduate of 
Hamilton college. After admission to the bar in 1854 he 
practiced law for two years in Syracuse, and then decided to 
locate iii Omaha, having read in the eastern papers glowing 
descriptions <n the new town and its bright prospects. 

Soon after the incorporation "i Omaha as a city Mr 
Woolworth was elected city attorney i" Till the vacancy caused 



1 1 



354 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

by the resignation of Charles Grant. In 187 1 he was a dele- 
gate to the state constitutional convention. Air. Woolworth 
was a candidate for chief justice on the democratic ticket in 
1873, but was defeated. In the educational, religious and 
business development of Omaha he always took an active part. 
For many years he was chancellor of the Episcopalian diocese 
of Nebraska. It was as an equity lawyer that Mr. Woolworth 
excelled, and it is known that he received numerous large 
fees for his services in important equity cases, lie had the 
honor of serving one term as president of the American liar 
association. lie was a fluent writer and a constant student of 
law and literature. His "Nebraska in 1857" is an interesting 
little volume so far as it goes, but at that time there w r as not 
much to say about Nebraska, except its prospects. Mr. Wool- 
worth died in 1906. 

In the fall of 1856 there came to Omaha from Aurora, 
Illinois, a young lawyer of high legal talent, genial social quali- 
ties, common sense and unbending integrity, who by his per- 
suasive force in addressing a jury at once advanced into the 
front rank of his profession. He was by nature a lawyer. 
That man was William A. Little. He won the hearts and con- 
fidence of the people, who familiarly called him Bill. He had 
a keen sense of that which was right. In preparing a state- 
ment of facts and presenting them to the court or jury he had 
few equals. Seldom did he try a case that he did not endeavor 
to entertain and amuse the jury with outbursts of sparkling 
wit and withering sarcasm. He was courteous and obliging, 
and a man of his word. "Bill Little was one man in Omaha 
that I knew was beyond corruption," said an old-timer to the 
writer. In 1859 he was elected a territorial councilman, and 
was re-elected three times. The old settlers no doubt remem- 
ber his fight against "wild cat" bank legislation. 

In 1865 Little was elected a member of the convention 
to draft a constitution for the state's admission. Two years 
later Nebraska became a state. Little was nominated by the 
democrats for chief justice of the supreme court. The re- 
publicans nominated Oliver Perry Mason. Little was the only 
man elected on the democratic ticket — an evidence of his great 
popularity. He was in feeble health and did not live to qualify 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 355 

for office. Soon after his election he returned to Aurora, 
and there died. It has been repeatedly said of Bill Little that 
"a more honest man never crossed the Missouri river." 

Governor David Butler, the first executive after Nebraska 
was admitted to statehood, appointed O. P. Mason to fill the 
vacancy in the supreme court caused by the death of Mr. Little, 
and two years later he was elected to the position, for which 
he was admirably qualified. Mason was a New Yorker by 
nativity. He located in Nebraska City in 1855. lie served as 
territorial councilman in 1858. He assisted materially in the 
framing of Nebraska's first constitution. Mason held the office 
of chief justice until 1873. General S. R. Curtis appointed 
him provost marshal of Nebraska in 1864, and he served in 
this capacity until the end of the war. In the practice of his 
profession he was a successful advocate. 

As an orator Mason had few if any equals. He was 
opposed to all special legislation and special privileges to cor- 
porations. In a speech opposing the passage of a special law 
he described corporations as organizations "having no eyes to 
see, no hearts to feel, no souls to save, no heaven to gain, and 
no hell to shun — they can feel, but only for other men's 
P< ckets." 

Among the most highly respected lawyers of the pioneer 
period was John l\. Meredith, who, after many years of 5UC- 

ful practice In Pennsylvania and Ohio, came to Omaha in 
1X57, and was soon recognized as a man of ability in his pro- 
ion. In 1865 he formed a partnership with George W. 
Doane. "Mr. Meredith was a gentleman of strong religious 

sentiment and convictions and his influence and example were 

always for good/ 1 Such was the tribute paid t<> him by Dr. 

Miller Upon his death in 1871. 

The Meredith home, which until recently stood in a com- 
manding location just north of the Northwestern Bell tele- 
phone building overlooking the city in every direction, was 
one of the mosl attractive residence, m ( hnaha in its daw 

Another pioneer lawyer, an influential factor in the gen 
era] uplift of ( tmaha, w as ( lint- • t i Briggs, w h« ►, a fter being ad- 
mitted to the bar in Michigan, bis native state, added to his 
legal equipment I ing to Auburn. New York, and stud} 



356 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



for a year in the office of William H. Seward, secretary of 
state in Lincoln's cabinet. It was in November, 1855, that Mr. 
Briggs located in Omaha and at once entered into active prac- 
tice. Two years later he was elected county judge, and this 
was followed by election to the legislature. In 1859 he formed 
a partnership with John I. Redick, which continued for ten 
years. Judge Briggs was the fourth mayor of Omaha, being 
elected in 1860. In 1875 he was a member of the constitutional 
convention, and in 1877 he was a republican candidate for 




^^ 



(Hilton BrigTgra — fourth mayor of Omalin 

United States senator. He was defeated by a few votes, Alvin 
Saunders being the winner. While on a trip to Chicago, De- 
cember 10, 1882, Judge Briggs fell from the train and was 
killed. 

The first chief justice of Nebraska was Fenner Ferguson, 
who held the office two years and was then elected delegate 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



357 



to congress. He died in 1859, at the end of his term. His 
home was in Bellevue. A. X. Ferguson, his son, was a lawyer 
who began practice in Omaha in 1872. He was elected state 
senator in 1876, was district attorney for two years, county 
judge for one term, and member of the. board of education. 

The successor to Chief Justice 
Ferguson was Augustus Hall, a na- 
tive of New York, who had become 
quite prominent in Iowa, both in his 
profession and in politics. In 1854 
the democrats of the First district 
Df Iowa elected him as representa- 




tive in congress. 



While congress- 



chief justice \llttll«tllM Ullll 



man he secured immense land grant- 
for the prospective railroads in 
Iowa. In December, 1857, he was 
appointed chief justice of Nebraska, 
and located in Bellevue. His death 
in February, 1861, caused deep re- 
gret throughout the territory. "His 
best epitaph is written in his judicial 
determinations." Such was the tri- 
bute paid him by James M. Woolworth. Judge Mall was the 
father of the late Richard S. Hall, a member of the Douglas 
county bar, and who was for several years a partner of John M. 
Thurston. 

The third chief justice of Nebraska was William Pitt 
Kellogg, who was appointed by President Lincoln in May, 

1861. He was a native of Vermont, and after graduating at 
Norwich Military academy, moved to Illinois and studied law. 
being admitted to tin- bar in 1852. He became active in the 
republican party and was a delegate in 1860 t<> the national 
convention that nominated Lincoln, and was one <•! the presi- 
dential electors. 

In May, 1861, President Lincoln appointed him chief jus- 
tiee of the territory of Nebraska, and later granted bun leave 
oi absen e that he might raise a regiment of cavalry in Illinois, 
ot which he was made colonel. Colonel Kellogg served two 
years in the Missouri campaign with Pope, but was compelled 



358 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

to resign from the army, owing to poor health. While a resi- 
dent of Omaha he invested in several pieces of real estate, 
which he held for many years. Colonel Kellogg was appointed 
collector of the port of New Orleans immediately after the 
close of the war and served three years. He was then elected 
United States senator from Louisiana. In 1873 he was elected 
governor and served until 1876, when he was returned to the 
senate. At the expiration of his term as senator he was elected 
a member of the house of representatives, where he remained 
until 1885. He was a delegate to every republican national 
convention from I860 to 1896. Colonel Kellogg was an in- 
teresting character and was a most fearless man. An attempt 
was made to assassinate him while he was collector of Xew 
Orleans. 

In 1912 Judge Day received a letter from Colonel Kellogg 
regarding some business matters in connection with his Omaha 
property, and incidentally he indulged in some pleasant reminis- 
cences of the Herndon house, at which he was a boarder along 
with Governor Saunders, George A. Spencer, Saunders' private 
secretary; A. S. Paddock, territorial secretary; P. W. Hitch- 
cock, United States marshal; John M. Thayer, adjutant gen- 
eral, and T. W. Tipton. In his letter Colonel Kellogg said 
that he had the pleasure of meeting these six gentlemen on the 
floor of the United States senate chamber, each one having 
been elected a senator in the course of events. Spencer, who 
had been a sutler in the army, went to Alabama as a carpet- 
bagger arid represented that state in the senate. In this same 
letter Colonel Kellogg said that he happened to be in the Ford 
theater on the night that Lincoln was assassinated, and with a 
friend from Peru, Nebraska, went to the house to which the 
president was carried. This friend accidentally dropped his 
handkerchief upon the corpse, and when he picked it up it was 
saturated with blood. "I'll keep that handkerchief as long as I 
live," said the friend. Colonel Kellogg long afterwards met this 
friend's son and related this incident. "Yes," said the son, 
"we have that handkerchief in our family now." 

Chief Justice Kellogg presided at the trial of Cyrus H. 
Tator for the murder of Isaac H. Neff, the object of the crime 
being robbery. Tator was convicted and was hanged August 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



359 



28, 1863, near Sulphur Springs. This was the first legal execu- 
tion in Nebraska. 

Chief Justice William Pitt Kellogg was succeeded by 
William Kellogg of Illinois, whom he had recommended for 
the place. These two Kelloggs were in no way related except 
by the ties of friendship. The similarity of their names caused 
some confusion at times. William Kellogg was appointed in 
May, 1865, and served until the election of William A. Little, 
first chief justice of Nebraska after it became a state, but who 
did not live to qualify for the office, as previously stated. 

Tn January, 1857, Eleazer 
Wakeley, then a resident in Wis- 
consin, where he had served in 
the legislature and had won an 
excellent reputation as a lawyer, 
was appointed by President Pierce 
as associate justice of the terri- 
torial supreme court of Nebraska 
and was assigned to the third dis- 
trict, which comprised Washing- 
ton and organized counties north 
of it and all unorganized terri- 
tory to the west and northwest, 
embracing an area of about 350,- 
000 square miles. Judge Wakeley 
was reappointed by President 
Bleaaei Waketa] Buchanan. Soon alter the in- 

auguration of Lincoln lie returned to Wisconsin and resumed 
practice in thai state. In 1867 he canie back to Nebraska and 

ever after made bis home in Omaha, lie was a member <>t 
the constitutional convention of L871. At the unanimous re- 
quest of the I K >uglas o tunty bar. < i< >\ cnx >r I )aw es, in the spring 
of 1883, appointed him one of the district judges and in the fall 
of the same \ car he was unanimously elected with Judge Neville 
for four years, ( kit of bis contemporaries has paid him this 

tribute : "A - a judicial officer Judge Wakeley bad no superior. 

He was regarded as a leader in bis profession and was especi- 
ally fitted for the position Of magistrate. Mis profound eru- 
dition, legal acumen, impartial mind, and clear intuition <>! 




360 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



right and wrong served him so well on the bench that he was 
frequently spoken of as 'the just judge.' " 

Judge Wakeley, in his practice, was a leader of the bar 
of Nebraska. He was a New Yorker by birth. He was the 
father of District Judge Arthur C. Wakeley and of L. W. 
Wakeley, general passenger agent of the Burlington system 
west of the Missouri. He died in 1912, aged 90 years. 

In 1856 John I. Redick, 
a native of Ohio, having 
under adverse circum- 
stances acquired a fair ed- 
ucation and having been 
admitted to the bar, came 
to Omaha and opened an 
office. He had had some 
few years of experience 
as a practicing lawyer and 
also had engaged in the 
real estate business in 
Michigan. Soon after lo- 
cating in Omaha his cli- 
entage grew rapidly and 
in 1859 he formed a part- 
nership with Clinton 
Briggs, which lasted ten 
years. At every oppor- 
tunity he invested his 
available funds in real 
estate and in time his holdings became very valuable, especially 
those in the business district, and at his death he left to his 
heirs a very large estate. 

At the breaking out of the rebellion Mr. Redick was a 
war democrat and at the close of the war he became a republi- 
can. At the Baltimore convention, at which Lincoln was nom- 
inated for a second term, Mr. Redick, who was chairman of 
the Nebraska delegation, announced the vote of the state as 
follows: "Nebraska casts her seven votes for Abraham Lin- 
coln, the second savior of the world." Mr. Redick was also 
chairman of the delegation to the Philadelphia convention that 




John I. Redick 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 361 

nominated Grant the second time. President Grant appointed 
Mr. Redick as United States judge of New Mexico in 1876, in 
which capacity he served only one year, having become tired of 
the monotony of the work. He then spent a year in Denver as 
attorney for the Union Pacific. Returning to Omaha he re- 
sumed his practice in this city. 

In 1881, while attending the republican national conven- 
tion in Chicago, Judge Redick became so provoked over the 
defeat of Grant that he switched back to the democratic party. 
General Grant's first visit to Omaha was in 1868, after he had 
been nominated for the presidency, and following his reception 
he took a trip over the Union Pacific as far as it was then 
completed. Upon his return he was met at Fremont by Judge 
Redick, who wished to draw him out on the political situation. 
They were seated at a table in the eating house and Judge 
Redick's attempt to engage him in any extended conversation 
that might reveal his political thoughts proved a complete fail- 
ure. About the only thing that he could get out of Grant was 
the laconic remark: "I like that gravy." This was one of 
Judge Redick's favorite stories. 

Judge Redick was a very witty man and was very suc- 
nil as a jury lawyer. Me was an enterprising and liberal 
citizen and took pleasure in substantially assisting every wor- 
thy project that was launched for the advancement of the city. 
He was the father of Judge William A. Redick and ( ). C. 
Redick. lb- died April 3, 1906, at the age of 79 years. 

George B. Lake was one of the nx^t eminent lawyers of 

Nebraska. I lis mother, whose maiden name was Nancy Wil- 
liams, was a lineal descendant of Roger Williams. It was 
with great difficulty and struggle that he acquired an educa- 
tion, a- he was left an orphan at an early age, together with 
five Other children. Mis early youth was spent in tanning 
in Ohio, whither the family had moved from New Y<»rk. 

\\ hen Mr. Lake reached his majority he attended 1 )berlin col- 
. where he remained two years Me then studied law and 

was admitted to the bar m 1851, and m 1857 he became a resi 

dent oi ( )ni;iha For a sh<>rt time he was associated with Mr 
PoppletOIl in practice In 1859 Mr I .ike was a member of 

the legislature, and was re elected three time- 1 le was a mem- 



362 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 




ber of the convention that drafted the constitution under which 
Nebraska was admitted to statehood, and was elected associate 

justice of the supreme court, hold- 
ing his first court under the consti- 
tution in April, 1867. By virtue of 
his office he was constituted one of 
the district judges, thus doing 
double duty. 

Judge Lake was a member of 
the constitutional convention of 
1871. As a judge his decisions car- 
ried weight and commanded re- 
spect. Judge Lake was a very mod- 
est man and an influential citizen. 
He was fond of hunting and fish- 
ing, and other outdoor sports. He 
was related to Mr. Poppleton by 
George b. Lake marriage. His first wife was Miss 

D. A. Poppleton, who died in 1854 in Ohio; his second wife 
was a sister of Mr. Poppleton and a cousin of his first wife; the 
third Mrs. Lake was Miss Abbie Hays, who still resides in 
Omaha. Judge Lake, who died in 1910, was the father of Mrs. 

Joy Morton of Chicago, and Mrs. 
Charles L. Deuel and Dr. Fred W. 
Lake of Omaha. 

Another Ohio lawyer who be- 
came prominent was George Wash- 
ington Doane. who soon after lo- 
cating in Decatur in 1857 was elect- 
ed district attorney of the Third 
district. He was a member of the 
legislature in 1858, and was ex- 
officio probate judge in Dakota 
county for a short time. In 1860 he 
moved to Calhoun, and in 1862 to 
Cincinnati, where he remained 
two years. Returning to Nebraska 
he cast his lot with Omaha, and in 
George w. Doane 1355 was elected prosecuting at- 




THE STORY OF OMAHA 



363 




torney. Mr. Doane was a member of the last territorial legis- 
lature in 1867, was a city councilman in 1868, and state senator 
in 1880. He also served as district judge. Judge Doane 
passed away in December, 1912, at the age of 85. Mrs. Doane 
resides with her daughter, Mrs. C. B. Keller. 

The sixth mayor of Omaha was 
B. E. B. Kennedy, a native of Ver- 
mont, who studied law in the office 
of Senator Edmunds, and soon after 
his admission to the bar he landed 
in Omaha. That was in 1858. He 
was elected city councilman in 1863, 
and the same year he stepped into 
the mayor's chair to fill the vacancy 
caused by the resignation of George 
Armstrong, and the people re-elected 
him. Mr. Kennedy was city attor- 
ney one term; director of public 
schools eight years beginning in 
1864, territorial representative in 
1864, territorial councilman in 1865, and a member of the state 
legislature one term. He was an enthusiastic sportsman and 
a member of the Omaha Gun club, and served several terms 
as state fish commissioner. 

George Ingersoll Gilbert, a Vermonter, was admitted to 
the bar in ( liicago in 1857 and a few weeks later was a practic- 
ing lawyer in Omaha. The following year he was elected 

city attorney. Mr. Gilbert represented the city in cases in- 
volving titles to all the original entries of land Within the cor- 
porate limits outside of the mayor's entry of 320 aires. In 

1860 he formed a partnership with George B. bake and the 
next year was elected prosecuting attorney for Douglas county. 
This office he resigned in 1862 and crossed the plains with 
K. B, Chandler. Late in the fall he, with his associates, dis- 
covered the Boise mines, then in Washington territory. The 
following winter the legislature created a new county covering 
what is now the south half «>i Idaho, and in the an ( lilbert was 
named probate judge While there in- became interested in 



It. 10. It. Kennedy, 
six ili mayor of Omaha 



364 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



placer mining in company with Mike Murphy, well remem- 
bered by old-timers of Omaha as the brother of the late Mrs. 
T. B. Cuming and of the late Frank Murphy, for many years 
president of the Merchants National bank. In 1867 Mr. Gil- 
bert engaged in the commission business in Chicago. Return- 
ing to Omaha two years later he resumed the practice of law. 
In 1876 he entered into partnership with B. E. B. Kennedy. 
Mr. Gilbert was a member of the first police commission, in 
1887, under which a metropolitan police system was established. 

Immediately after ad- 
mission to the New York 
bar in 1860 Charles H. 
Brown came to Omaha and 
crossed the plains to Den- 
ver with a freighting out- 
fit for the benefit of his 
health, and later was em- 
ployed in the construction 
of the Pacific telegraph line. 
Returning to Omaha he 
was elected district attor- 
ney in the fall of 1862. He 
it was who prosecuted Ta- 
tor for the murder of Neff, 
who was hanged for his 
crime. Mr. Brown served 
in the constitutional con- 
vention of 1864, was a 
member of the legislature 
of 1865-66, and was elect- 
ed the ninth mayor of Oma- 
ha in 1867. At that time 
the mayor acted also as po- 
lice judge. Mr. Brown re- 
ceived the entire democratic vote of the legislature for United 
States senator in 1869. In 1875 he was again a member of 
the constitutional convention. He served in the state senate 
three terms. Mr. Brown was regarded as a lawyer of great 




14, 



mm 



Charles II. Hrown, 
ninth mayor of Omaha 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



365 



ability and was one of Omaha's most popular citizens. He 
was an uncle of Randall K. Brown. 

^ At the opening of the war 

^^ of the rebellion Tames W. Sav- 

-. age was a practicing lawyer in 

Xew York city. Answering to 
the call of his country he vol- 
unteered his services and was 
assigned to the staff of General 
Fremont, with the rank of cap- 
tain. Fremont was soon after 
removed from his command, 
but when he was reinstated in 
November, 1861, Savage, who, 




J :i m cm \\ . S;i\ ii Ki' 



in the meantime, had risen to 
the rank of major, was pro- 
moted to lieutenant colonel on 
his staff. Colonel Savage con- 
tinued with Fremont until 
August, 1862, when he ob- 
tained leave to raise a regiment, 
and he soon succeeded in re- 
cruiting the Twelfth Xew York cavalry. Colonel Savage wa- 
in the service until August, 1865. Two years later he pitched 
hi- permanent camp in Omaha. In 1875 he was elected judge 
of the district court and was re-elected in 1X79. In this capacity 
he served eight years. 

done! Savage was a corresponding member of the his- 
torical societies of Xew Hampshire, his native state, and of 
Wisconsin and Missouri. He wrote a history of Omaha, in 
which Ik- was assisted by John T. Bell. Colonel Savage was a 
government director of the I ni<>n Pacific during President 
Cleveland's first term. He died November 22, 1890. \t a 
memorial meeting of the Douglas county bar John Lee Web- 
rter, in the d >urse i >f his eul< >gy "i Col< >nel Savage, said : "He 
a lawyer of more than ordinary talent. He was elected 
n. th<- judgeship l>\ such a vote as told tin- esteem in which he 
was held by the people. He tilled the high position with be- 
coming decorum and superior dignity." 



Mm, 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 




General Charles F 
3Ianrierson 



The people of Omaha will long 
remember Charles F. Manderson 
as one of the most distinguished 
and gallant men that ever 
graced the city. In the war of the 
rebellion he fought valiantly for 
the Stars and Stripes, and near the 
end of the conflict he resigned, 
owing to a severe wound. Upon 
his retirement he was brevetted 
brigadier general for ''gallant, 
long continued and meritorious 
services." His military record was 
one of which he might justly feel 
proud. Returning to his home in 
Canton, Ohio, he resumed the 
practice of the law which he had 
abandoned when called to his country's defense. 

General Manderson was twice elected prosecuting attor- 
ney of Canton, and in 1867 he came within one vote of winning 
the republican nomination for congress. In 1869 he came to 
Omaha and formed a partnership with Colonel Savage. He was 
a member of the constitutional conventions of 1871 and 1875, 
and was city attorney for six years. His partnership with 
Colonel Savage was dissolved by the election of the latter to 
the district bench, and he then practiced alone until 1880, when 
he entered into partnership with Isaac E. Congdon, who is 
still in active practice, having been a member of the Omaha 
bar for forty-two years. The firm of Manderson & Congdon 
was continued until the election of Manderson to the United 
States senate in 1883. Senator Manderson was re-elected in 
1889, During his twelve years in the senate, of which he was 
president pro tern several years, he was regarded as one of 
the most influential and popular leaders in that branch of the 
government. 

Upon his return to private life Senator Manderson ac- 
cepted the general attorneyship of the Burlington railwav sys- 
tem west of the Missouri. He was an elegant speaker and a 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



367 



fluent writer. His "Twin Seven Shooters," a booklet relating 
a personal episode of the war of the rebellion, is most charm- 
ingly written. His death occurred in 1911. 

The name of John D. 
Howe is well remembered by 
the old time residents of 
Omaha. He came to the 
territory of Nebraska in 

1866 from Connecticut, his 
native state. He was born 
in 1846 in Litchfield. He 
spent his first Nebraska 
winter and spring in the 
Elkhorn valley, living in a 
log cabin with his brothers, 
and spending a part of his 
time in writing letters for 
The Omaha Herald. In 

1867 Mr. Howe came to 
Omaha and entered into a 
law partnership with Charles 
II. Brown and Albert 
Swartzlander. Two years 
later Clinton BriggS with- 
drew from the firm of Redick & BriggS and Mr. Howe 
thereupon became associated with Mr. Redick. At the end of 
three years lie began practicing alone, and in 1880 was elected 

to the state- senate and served in the sessions of 1881 and 1882. 
Mr. Howe was appointed city attorney in 1883, and the next 
year was called to St. Paul to take the general solicitorship of 
the I 'hicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & ( taiaha railway, the posi- 
tion having been made vacant by the resignation of John C. 
Spooner of Wisconsin. Resigning from his railway office in 
1887 Mr. Howe made a general tour of Europe, and return- 
ing to ( )nialia he resumed the practice of law. In 1910 He re 
tired from active business and has since lived a life of c 
"in the open" in accordance with the advice of physicians. He 
spends his time in Florida, Washington and Atlantic City. 




John I). How*- 



368 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



During his career in Omaha he was an occasional contributor 
to the newspapers and took great interest in public affairs. 
Mr. Howe was an able lawyer and was ranked as one of the 
leaders of the bar of Omaha and Nebraska. 

Enlisting as a private in 
the Union army, John C. 
Cowin was mustered out at 
the close of the war of the 
rebellion as a captain, and 
at once took up the study of 
law in Union Law college, 
Cleveland, and upon gradu- 
ating bought a ticket for 
Omaha. This was in 1867. 
A year later he was elected 
district attorney, and having 
demonstrated that he was a 
young man of great force 
and ability he was re-elected. 
He was remarkably success- 
ful in prosecuting criminals 
as well as defending persons 
charged with crime. 
In 1876 Cowin was a candidate for the republican nomi- 
nation for congress, but was defeated. The railroads were op- 
posed to him on account of a suit involving the taxation of the 
railroad land grants by state and municipal authorities. This 
was a very important suit, and he won it in the supreme court. 
In 1883 Cowin was a candidate for United States senator, but 
was defeated in the legislature after two weeks of voting. 
General Manderson was the winner. 

One of the most remarkable criminal victories ever 
achieved by Cowin was the acquittal of Libbie Beechler for the 
murder of Harry King in the Paxton hotel. This woman came 
all the way from Chicago to deliberately shoot King, whom she 
had charged with having abandoned her. The evidence seemed 
to be heavily against her, yet Cowin convinced the jury that she 
was a wronged woman and they turned her loose to go back 
to her old haunts. 




.loh ii ('. Cowin 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 369 

The case of Boyd vs. Thayer was won by Cowin. James 
E. Boyd had been elected governor, but Thayer refused to 
vacate the office on the ground that Boyd was not a citizen 
of the United States because his father, an Irishman, had never 
been fully naturalized. Cowin maintained that all persons 
within the territory when it was admitted to statehood, under 
the enabling act of congress, became citizens of the United 
States. The court upheld this contention, and Boyd was sworn 
in as governor. 

Judge Savage paid this high compliment to Cowin: "The 
argument made by Mr. Cowin upon the question of who is a 
citizen of the United States in order to hold office within the 
state the writer believes to be one of the most masterly dis- 
cussion of that question that has ever been made by a lawyer 
within the last century." 

Cowin, who was, one of the foremost members of the Ne- 
braska bar, was selected bv President McKinlev to handle the 
foreclosure proceeding against the Union Pacific, for which 
he was allowed a fee of $100,000. He continued in active 
practice until within a year or two of his death, which occurred 
in 1919. W. J. Connell, a surviving member of the "Old 
Guard," pays this tribute to him : "I knew John C. Cowin thor- 
oughly and for a longer period than any member of this bar. He 
was an able and successful lawyer. In manner and appearance 
he was out of the usual order. He was forceful, dramatic, pic- 
turesque. His loyalty to a client or to a cause that he repre- 
sented knew no limit." 

At the age of 21 William J. Connell wandered from the 
far east to the west, and, coming to ( )maha in 1867, found em- 
ployment of various kinds until he decided to study law. He 
studied in the offices of Colonel ("base. B. E. B. Kennedy and 
fames M. Woolworth, and was admitted to the bar in 1X70. 
Two years later the republicans elected him to the office of 
district attorney of the Third district, which then included 
Douglas, Lancaster and ten other counties, and as a reward 

for his efficient services he was re-elected in 1874. I [e \\ as city 
attorney for four years during the administration of Mayor 

Boyd, and served One term in the national house ,.t' represent 

atives, and in 1892 he aeain filled the office of city attorney. 



370 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



For twenty years he was attorney for the street railway com- 
pany. He is generally acknowledged to be a forceful and re- 
sourceful lawyer. 

Mr. Connell has always 
been a persistent fighter, 
whether in the practice of 
his profession or as the 
leader of a political fac- 
tion or in any cause in which 
he was interested. Loyalty to 
clients and friends has ever 
characterized his aggressive 
career, and at times he has 
stood ready to fight physically 
for them. Charles Lever, in 
describing Tom O'Flaherty 
in "Harry Lorrequer," said 
that "he never deserted a 
friend nor quailed before an 
enemy." This is equally true 
of the pugnacious Connell, 
who is still in active practice 
at the age of 76. He is the 
father of Dr. Karl Connell. 

Mr. Connell is now writing "A Review of the Judges and 
Decisions of the Supreme Court of Nebraska" from 1867 to 
the present time, and he intends to publish the work not later 
than 1924. It is his intention to make this review a fair criti- 
cism as well as merited commendation of both judges and de- 
cisions. He will endeavor to show the injustice and conflict 
of a number of decisions and will commend the many sound 
and able opinions contained in the Nebraska reports. Mr. 
Connell has attended nearly every term of the supreme court 
since its organization. He is familiar with every decision 
and has known every judge of this court. His experience ad- 
mirably qualifies him for the review that he has outlined, and 
the work will no doubt prove interesting as well as instructive. 
It will be an appropriate rounding out of his long and success- 
ful career as a lawyer. 




William J. Connell 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



371 




John l.pp \\ . I. si. r 



John Lee Webster, who is one of Nebraska's most emi- 
nent lawyers, was horn in Harrison county, Ohio, March 18, 



372 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

1847, and was educated in Washington college, Pennsylvania, 
and Mount Union college, Ohio, graduating from the latter 
institution with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. When only 
seventeen years of age he answered the call of his country 
and served as a private in the 167th Ohio infantry in the war 
of the rebellion. He was wounded in battle, and served to 
the end of the war. 

Mr. Webster now took up the study of law and upon 
being admitted to the bar began practicing in 1868. In 1869 
he came to Omaha and formed a partnership with General 
Strickland, which continued for several years. He was soon 
recognized as a lawyer of more than ordinary ability. He 
was elected a member of the legislature in 1873, and having 
informed himself as to the needs of the state he succeeded in 
having many constructive measures passed, one of which was 
for a constitutional convention. This bill was vetoed by the 
governor, but at the next session it was brought up again and 
was passed, and Mr. Webster was chosen chairman of the con- 
vention in 1875. Two years later he was chosen city attorney. 

Mr. Webster is regarded as a high authority on constitu- 
tional law. Among the important cases in which he has been 
interested the one that attracted the most attention through- 
out the country was that of Standing Bear. In this case he 
was associated with A. J. Poppleton. The federal government 
had moved the Ponca Indians from their reservation in Dakota 
to the Indian Territory. Standing Bear and twenty-five others 
returned to their former home in Dakota. General Crook, 
acting upon orders, arrested them and was having them taken 
back to the Indian Territory, and while in Omaha for a brief 
period Standing Bear and his associates appealed to the federal 
court for a writ of habeas corpus. Judge Dundy decided that 
an Indian is a person within the meaning of the habeas corpus 
act and has the right to go anywhere in the country so long 
as he does not threaten the peace and welfare of the govern- 
ment. 

Much Indian legislation later hinged upon this case 
and proved of great benefit to the red men. Mr. Webster was 
also connected with the maximum railroad rate cases, bank 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 373 

guaranty law cases of Kansas and Nebraska, and the Omaha 
water works litigation, all involving important issues. 

Upon the death of Chief Justice Matthews of the su- 
preme court of the United States Mr. Webster was endorsed 
by a large number of his fellow citizens as a lawyer admirably 
qualified to fill the vacancy. 

Mr. Webster was the unanimous choice for delegate-at- 
large to the national republican convention in 1892, and was 
chairman of the delegation, and he filled the same position in 
the convention of 1906. He was endorsed by the Nebraska 
republican state convention in 1904 for the nomination of 
vice-president of the United States. Various federal govern- 
ment appointments have been tendered to him, but they have 
invariably been declined, among the number being minister to 
Venezuela, solicitor-general, and assistant secretary of war. 

Mr. Webster takes a deep interest in historical matters, 
especially those relating to Nebraska. For seven years he was 
president of the Nebraska State Historical society. Upon 
the approach of the semi-centennial of the state he 
proposed holding an historical pageant that would symbolize 
not only the development of Nebraska but the opening up of 
the Great West. The idea appealed to the members of the 
society, but it was such a big undertaking that Mr. Webster 
was called upon to take the chairmanship of the committee in 
order to carry out his plans. He called upon one hundred men 
of the state to help him in this campaign. How well he suc- 
1 led in the interpretation was demonstrated with the most 
wonderful pageant ever shown in any city in America, and 
which was reviewed by the president of the United States 
Upon imitation of the committee. The grand pageant in 1916 
winch proved a revelation and moving picture of the history, 
growth and development of the state. 

The celebration of the tercentenary of the landing of the 
Pilgrims at Plymouth, which was celebrated in ( tmaha in 1920 
with a historical pageant, was promoted by Mr. Webster and 

was a brilliant and educational affair. 

Mr. Webster is the founder of the Palimpsest club, a 
group oi intelligent and cultured professional and business 
men who meet to entertain distinguished visitors, prominent 



374 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



in literary, historical and other fields, or to listen to addresses 
upon subjects dealing with the progress of the arts and sciences. 
He also founded the Friends of Art association which aims to 
cultivate a greater love and recognition of art among the people 
of Omaha. He received his inspiration for this association 
from extensive travels in Europe, where he visited all of the 
principal museums, picture galleries and libraries, inspecting 
the priceless treasures of the old masters and the mute tes- 
timonials showing the development of the European people. 

One of Air. Webster's ambitions is to make Omaha a 
center of culture and to have a museum or an art gallery that 
will be an object of admiration to all. He is well versed in 
general literature and possesses a large, valuable and diversi- 
fied library. 

A prominent part was 
played in the public affairs of 
Omaha by Isaac S. Hascall 
during his active career. In 
his earlier years he was a 
wanderer in all parts of the 
country and met with various 
adventures. But wherever he 
remained for a short time he. 
either practiced law, held 
office, or was engaged in 
prospecting and mining or in 
land deals. 

In the fall of 1855 he first 
visited Nebraska and platted 
townships in Nemaha and 
Otoe counties, having crossed 
over from Kansas. Returning 
to Kansas, he practiced law 
in that state for four years 
and was a member of the con- 
stitutional convention. He 
spent some years in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, return- 
ing to his New York home by steamer from San Francisco. It 




Isaac S. Hascall 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



375 



was in 1865 that he came to Omaha and made it his home for 
the balance of his life. He was probate judge, member of the 
constitutional conventions of 1871 and 1875, was twice state 
senator, and three times city councilman. He devoted more 
time to politics than to the practice of law. In fact he was a 
professional politician and was shrewd and tricky, and carried 
the votes of the Second ward in his inside vest pocket. 

George M. O'Brien, who 
was born in Ireland, came 
to the United States in 1849 
and located in Milwaukee, 
Wisconsin, where he prac- 
ticed the profession of civil 
engineering, and at the same 
time studied law and was ad- 
mitted to the bar. In 1861 
he was appointed consul to 
Cuba by President Lincoln 
but resigned his commission 
and enlisted as a private in 
the battalion of Major Cas- 
sius M. Clay to protect the 
capitol in Washington. Mr. 
O'Brien was discharged as 
sergeant in August, 1861, 
and in September, 1862, was 
commissioned colonel of the 
(....oral <;e«r K e m. O'Brien Fourth Iowa volunteer in- 

fantry, and on consolidation 
of the 42nd and 43rd regiments, January 8, 1863, he was com- 
missioned lieutenant colonel of the unv regiment, which was 
called the 7th Iowa cavalry. A part of this regiment having 
been transferred to the 8th b»\va cavalry and the 14th Iowa 
infantry, the remaining battalion consolidated with a bat- 
talion of the41sl Iowa infantry, otherwise known as the Sioux 

City Rangers. Of this re-organized 7th [owa cavalry regi- 
ment he was appointed and commissioned Major on July 13, 
1863. From August, 1863, to the close of the war. tins regi- 




376 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

merit did service on the plains of Kansas, Nebraska, and 
Colorado. 

In 1863 General O'Brien built Fort McPherson, which 
was commonly known as Post Cottonwood, of which post he 
became commander. September 27, 1864, he was assigned to 
duty as district engineer of the military district of Nebraska, 
which then comprised all territory north of the Kansas line and 
west to the crest of the Rocky mountains. This territory is now 
occupied by the states of Nebraska. Colorado, Wyoming, the 
two Dakotas, the eastern part of Montana, and a part of Idaho. 
This position General O'Brien filled until February 11, 1865, 
when he was assigned to the command of his regiment and as 
such did duty as supervising officer of all the troops doing 
escort duty on the Overland Stage line from Fort McPherson, 
Nebraska, to Fort Sedgwick, Colorado. On the 13th day of 
March, 1865, he was commissioned brevet brigadier general. 
United States volunteers, with which grade he was mustered 
out of the service on the 13th day of May, 1866, at Fort Leav- 
enworth, Kansas. 

Locating in Omaha immediately after being mustered out 
of the service General O'Brien opened a law office and soon 
acquired a large clientage. He was one of the incorporators 
of the Omaha* horse railway company. Flis death occurred 
in January, 1887. He was the father of eight children, one 
of whom was the late Margaret M. O'Brien, who for twenty- 
eight years was assistant public librarian. His son George, 
who was a lawyer, died some years ago, and another son, 
Nicholas, a prominent railroad official, passed away in 1920. 
Moses P. O'Brien, the surviving son, is a lawyer, and in 1920 
was appointed city probation officer. 

Flmer S. Dundy came to Nebraska in 1857 and began 
practicing law in Falls City. He represented Richardson coun- 
ty in the legislature four terms, and in 1863 was appointed 
territorial associate justice of the supreme court. In 1868 he 
was appointed judge of the United States district court — a 
life position. Judge Dundy opened and held the first court 
in Colorado, which was then within his jurisdiction. Moving 
to Omaha about the vear 1880, he built a handsome residence 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 



377 






on Leavenworth street. He was an expert hunter of big game 

and generally spent his 
summer vacations in the 
Rocky mountains of Wy- 
oming. 

Judge Dundy pos- 
sessed a quiet vein of hu- 
mor which frequently 
cropped out in his deci- 
sions and in the hearing of 
cases. In a case for alien- 
ation of affections the de- 
fendant was about the 
homeliest and most re- 
pulsive looking man that 
was ever permitted to 
roam at large. Judge 
Dundy sent a bailiff" to 
summon Frank T. Ran- 
som into the presence of 
the court. When Ransom 
entered the court room 

the judge beckoned to him to take a seat beside him on the 

elevated platform. 

"Frank, I have summoned you here to take a good square 

look at that thing over there." said the judge, pointing to the 

defendant; "and I want your opinion as to whether a jury 
would be satisfied in rendering a verdict against him for the 
alienation of the affections of any woman?" 

"Most assuredly not," replied Ransom, "and if you think 
the jury would give the plaintiff damages you would be justi- 
fied m taking the case from the jury on the ground of no cause 

of act \i 'ii." 

"Upon your opinion I am willing to let the jury decide/' 
said the judge. 

Soon after arriving in Omaha from Wisconsin in 1869, 
John M Thurston made rapid headway in his profession. For 
a brief period he was police judge, and m 1872 was elected 




lllilur KIllMT S. DiHmIy 



378 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



city councilman. He was appointed city attorney in 1874 and 
held the office three years. He served one term in the legis- 
lature. Thurston was defeated for district judge by Colonel 
Savage. In 1877 Mr. Poppleton appointed him assistant gen- 
eral attorney of the Union Pacific. Thurston in 1892 was 
temporary chairman 
of the national repub- 
lican convention in 
Chicago, and was the 
presiding officer of 
the convention that 
nominated McKinley 
in f896. 

Upon the resig- 
nation of Mr. Popple- 
ton in 1888, Thurs- 
ton became general at- 
torney of the Union 
Pacific, and in 1896' 
was elected United 
States senator. This 
had been his ambition 
for several years. Af- 
ter the expiration of 
his term he made 
Washington his home 
until the spring of 
1916, when he re- 
turned to Omaha a 
broken down man. Death called him to the Great Beyond on 
August 29th. Thurston was a brilliant orator, a successful 
trial lawyer, and in his younger days was ranked among the 
leading members of the Nebraska bar. He was a loyal friend 
and generous to a fault. During the early days of his career 
in Omaha he was a strenuous advocate of temperance, but in 
later years he wandered somewhat from the dry path of ab- 
stinence. It is said that it was his intention to have entered 
the campaign in favor of prohibition in Nebraska. 




United Stales Senator John 31. Thurston 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



379 




< luirli's 



<ir«»eii«* 



Charles J. Greene, who served 
n the civil war, studied law in 
he office of Emory A. Storrs of 
Jhicago, and was admitted to 
he bar in 1871. He began prac- 
ice in Lincoln, where he was 
elected police judge and later 
ustice of the peace. In 1875 he 
noved to Omaha and soon took 
ank with the best lawyers of 
hat time. He was an eloquent 
>rator, and a genial person. 
ireene, who was a favorite with 
everybody, was a man of ready 
vit. Judge Neville had imposed 
I fine of $100 upon him for con- 
empt of court, and said : "The 
entence will at once be executed unless you apologize." "Your 
lonor, this is a case," replied Greene, "in which the court holds 
our aces against a bobtail flush. I apologize." The answer so 
rieased Judge Neville that he accepted the apology and re- 
nitted the fine. 

Among the lawyers that located in Omaha in the late six- 
iea were Albert Swartslander, George II. Roberts, Hen Sheiks, 

A. Baldwin, \V. O. Bartholomew, who was probate judge, 
reorge E. Pritchett, T. \V. T. Richards, J. S. Spaun, G. \V. 

Ambrose, and bis brother. J. ( '. Ambrose. J. \V. Lytic, and 

fohn J. O'Connor, who was a partner of Charles M. Brown. 

C. A. Baldwin's specialty was criminal law. The case that 
wrought him into some prominence was that of the State vs. 
[ernandez, charged with assault upon his wife with intent to 
[ill. Baldwin defended Hernandez, who was a member of 
Selden Irwin's stock company at the Academy of Music in 
1868. Mrs. Hernandez was a sister of Mrs. Irwin and the 

ear old daughter of Hernandez was an important witness 

ibr tin- state. This daughter became tbe wile of John Dillon, 

li<- famous actor. Baldwin, who was well up in civil practice, 
connected with th< of Franklin Robinson vs. \ l ) 

["lies invoking title to land in ( hnaha worth $200,000 [TllS 



180 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



litigation was long drawn out but eventually terminated in 
favor of Jones. G. W. Ambrose was an excellent lawyer, but 
a poor poker player. J. C. Ambrose, upon leaving Omaha, 
moved to Chicago and became a brilliant newspaper contribu- 
tor over the name of "JBobster." Spaun, becoming entangled 
with the wife of Matt Harris, a gambler, quit his family and 
went to Cheyenne with the Harris woman, whom he married. 
Pritchett served a term as United States district attorney, be- 
ginning in 1876. Patrick O. Hawes, a Kentuckian, who was 
major of the 45th Kentucky mounted infantry and was 
brevetted lieutenant colonel, was one of the original republi- 
cans of the Blue Grass state, and his republicanism was the 
cause of his coming north and locating in Omaha. In 1870 
he ran for contingent congressman, and was elected, the con- 
tingency being that the census of that year might show enough 
population to entitle Nebraska to two congressmen. But the 
census fell considerably short of the required population. 
Hawes spent considerable time and money in unsuccessfully 
attempting to induce congress to allow him quite a large sum 
for his campaign expenses. 

Upon leaving the Union ar- 
my, in which he had served 
throughout the war, Colonel 
Champion S. Chase came to 
Omaha and resumed the prac- 
tice of law, which had been in- 
terrupted in Wisconsin by the 
call of his country. In Wiscon- 
sin he had a varied experience 
in high political and legislative 
and professional positions. In 
1867 he was appointed attor- 
ney-general of Nebraska. Two 
years later he was made one of 
the regents of the state uni- 
versity. Colonel Chase was 
three times mayor of Omaha, 

and was collector of customs. Col ° nel <"»■»"-" s - Chm 
He was the father of Clement Chase. 




THE STOPY OF OMAHA 



381 




James Neville, having gradu- 
ated from the law department of 
the University of Michigan, be- 
gan the practice of law in Illinois, 
where he remained for several 
years. In 1867 he came to Oma- 
ha and made this city his perma- 
nent home. Through the influence 
of United States Senator Phineas 
\V. Hitchcock he was appointed 
by President Grant as United 
States district attorney for Ne- 
braska. Mr. Neville served effi- 
ciently in this position for eight 
years, and then resumed private 
practice. When Judge Savage re- 
signed from the district bench Mr. 
Neville was appointed to fill the 
vacancy, and was later elected and 
held the office for six years. He 
declined a re-election, and from 
that time devoted his attention to his private interests. By ju- 
dicious real estate investments Ik- accumulated a handsome 
fortune. Judge Neville, who died in February, 1921, at the 
age of 85. was the father of Elmer Neville and uncle of ex- 
governor Keith Neville. 

George W. Shields, a native of Scotland, came with his 

parents t<» the United States in 1861, when he was seven years 

.old. and in 1863 the family located in Omaha. Young Shields 

was educated in the Omaha schools and at the same time was 

a newspaper carrier. Studying law in the office of General 

Cowin he was admitted t<» the bar in 1876, and has met with 

success, lb- served tw«> term- a- county judge from lsss t«. 
1892. Judge Shields was elected county attorney in 1899 and 
was re-elected in 1891. Since 1893 he has devoted Ins tune t-» 
pn\ ;ii<- practii i 

Edward \\ . Simeral, who located in Omaha in 1870, 
studied law in the office of Strickland v\ Webster, and was 
admitted to the bar in 1875, and was for main years the at 



.Ill<IU<" .l.'IIIM-N \< \ill« 



382 THE STORY 01 OMAHA 

torney for The Omaha Bee. He is still in active practice. 

Among the pioneer lawyers there were several who, after 
a brief practice, drifted into other pursuits. A. D. Jones, 
Omaha's first postmaster and surveyor, was also a lawyer, but 
to the practice of law he paid little or no attention. 

Jonas Seeley, a brother-in-law of A. J. Hanscom, was 
active in legislative matters and always made a vigorous fight 
for Omaha during the years that her enemies endeavored to 
move the capital. 

Samuel E. Rogers, father of G. Sam Rogers, practiced 
law for a brief period, and then turned to merchandising, real 
estate, and banking. He died at the age of 92. 

Phineas W. Hitchcock, father of United States Senator 
Gilbert M. Hitchcock, took a hand in the political game, and 
was appointed United States marshal in 1861, and in 1864 
was elected delegate to congress. Upon the admission of Ne- 
braska to statehood he was appointed surveyor general, and 
in 1871 was elected United States senator, defeating General 
Thayer, who had served four years. 

James G. Chapman was district attorney in 1857. 

Major George Armstrong, the fifth mayor of Omaha, was 
a lawyer, but never practiced to any extent. He was one of 
Omaha's first contractors and builders, and in partnership with 
Air. Bovey built the territorial capitol and the first Douglas 
county courthouse. Two years after his return from the war 
of the rebellion he was appointed clerk of the Douglas county 
district court, w r hich position he held for ten years. 

Charles P. Burkitt, who was county clerk and city coun- 
cilman three terms, was appointed agent of the Ponca Indians 
in 1872, and in 1875 moved to Washington. 

The original bar of Omaha, consisting of seven lawyers, 
was formally admitted to practice in the territorial supreme 
court upon motion of Attorney-General Estabrook in February, 
1855, the court having been organized by Chief Justice Fergu- 
son, Associate Justice Hardin and Clerk J. Sterling Morton. 
These seven lawyers were A. J. Poppleton, O. D. Richardson. 
A. J. Hanscom, Silas A. Strickland, L. L. Bowen. A. D. Jones 
and Samuel E. Rogers.. Today there are 500 members of 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



383 



the Omaha bar. There is one lawyer to about every 400 of 
the population, and there are over 2,500 cases on the trial 
docket. Benjamin Stanton 

Baker, who for many 
years has held a 
prominent place in 
the front rank of the 
legal profession in 
Nebraska, is a native 
of Iowa. Being quick 
to learn he acquired 
in a few years a 
g ood fundamental 
education in the pub- 
lic schools, and at a 
very early age he 
successfully taught a 
country school. In 
1865 he became a 
student in the pre- 
paratory department 
of the University of 
Iowa, and in 187 1 
was graduated from 

the university with 

lt,..j..mi.. S. Maker thfi (U'^VVV Of Wlichv- 

lor of Arts. Resuming the profession of teaching Mr. Baker 
served as principal of the schools of Mason City and later was 
principal of the Webster City schools, lie was elected superin- 
tendent of Hamilton county, serving one term. Entering the 
law department of the University of Iowa he graduated in 
1874 with the degree of Bachelor of Laws. 

Mr. Baker began the practice of law in Webster City, re- 
maining there three years. In 1878 he went to bairbnrv. Ne- 
braska, where he successfully practiced bis profession for 
twelve years. In 1888 he was a delegate to the national repub- 
lican convention, and in the same year he was elected as a mem- 
ber of the lower house of the Nebraska legislature. While in 
the legislature he was largely instrumental in promoting the 




384 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

registration law, and was the author of the law allowing 
foreign corporations to become domestic organizations by fil- 
ing articles with the secretary of state. His appointment as 
United States district attorney was made by President Harrison 
in 1890, and in that important position Mr. Baker made a most 
efficient official. 

In 1895 Mr. Baker was elected judge of the Fourth ju- 
dicial district of Nebraska, and was re-elected four years later. 
While upon the bench his decisions indicated strong mentality, 
careful analysis, thorough knowledge of the law, and unbiased 
judgment. Judge Baker demonstrated that he possessed quali- 
ties that enabled him to sink his individuality and repress his 
personal feelings and his prejudices in the dignity, imparti- 
ality and equity of the office to which life, property, right and 
liberty must look for protection. In January, 1902, Judge 
Baker was appointed judge of the supreme court of Xew 
Mexico. He returned to Omaha in 1905 and has ever since 
made this city his home. 

During the years 1913 and 1914 Judge Baker served the 
city of Omaha as corporation counsel. He has always taken 
an active interest in republican politics, and was three times 
the chairman of the republican county central committee. In- 
cidentally, he narrowly escaped being 'nominated for governor 
being defeated by the late M. L. Hayward, who later was 
elected United States senator by the legislature, but died be- 
fore he could take his seat in the senate. 

Judge Baker is a genial, companionable and entertaining 
man, being a raconteur of more than ordinary merit 
with an extensive repertory of stories, anecdotes and inci- 
dents, many of which are entirely original and selected from 
his own experience as a lawyer, judge and public citizen. He 
possesses a keen and logical mind, backed up by business sense. 
Judge Baker has an earnest, dignified manner, marked strength 
of character, a thorough grasp of the law, and the ability to 
correctly apply its principles. These qualities have been the 
leading factors in his effectiveness as an advocate, counsellor 
and judge. While judge of the Fourth district of Nebraska 
many important cases came before him for trial and it is a re- 
markable fact that his decisions in these cases were nearly all 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



385 



confirmed by the supreme court. He preferred to practice law 
alone until 1917 when he took as his associate J. H. Ready, a 
bright young lawyer, and formed the firm of Baker & Ready, 
this partnership being necessitated by the large business that 
Judge Baker had built up. 

The legal department of 
the Union Pacific has always 
been in charge of lawyers 
of acknowledged ability. The 
late John N. Baldwin, who 
was for many years in the 
service of this great railway, 
eventually becoming its gen- 
eral solicitor, was held in 
the highest esteem by the di- 
rectorate whose fullest con- 
fidence he possessed. His 
father, Hon. Caleb Baldwin, 
who was a member of the 
supreme court of Iowa for 
many years, and chief just- 
ice for two years, was ap- 
.loiu, \. imid.vin pointed United States dis- 

trict attorney in 1864 by President Lincoln, and in 1S74 Presi- 
dent Grant made him a member of the Alabama claims com- 
mission in whose hands was placed the settlement of claims 
against England. 

John X. Baldwin was born in Council Bluffs July { K 1857. 

After attending the public schools of Council Bluffs young 

Baldwin in 1N7.} entered the state university of b>\va where he 
Was a close Btudent for three years, lie then went to Wash- 
ington, where his father was serving as a member of the court 

of commissioners of Alabama claims, and studied law in Col- 
umbia law school. Returning to Iowa in 1876 he became a 
student in the law department of the [owa state university 
from which he graduated in 1877 at tin- age ol twenty years, 
and at -.nee began the practice of his profession. In the univ< r 
sitv la- distinguished himself as a deep thinker, an eloquent 

orator, and a logical and convincing debater, and gave promise 




lL' 



386 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

of a successful career. He was associated for some time with 
his father's law firm. 

In 1877 Mr. Baldwin entered the service of the Union 
Pacific as local attorney in Council Bluffs, and in 1894 was 
promoted to the office of general attorney for Iowa and Ne- 
braska, and four years later was made general attorney of the 
road, and on January 10, 1906, he was appointed general so- 
licitor. To reach this high position had always been his am- 
bition from the day that he was employed by the company. 

Through his extensive reading and continuous study, as 
well as by his natural endowment, Mr. Baldwin won recogni- 
tion as one of the great orators of the middle west. At an 
early age he had shown great aptitude for public speaking and 
with each succeeding year he added to his reputation as an 
orator. His first attracted national attention through his 
speech as temporary chairman of the Iowa state republican 
convention in 1894, and two years later at the republican na- 
tional convention he presented the name of Senator Allison 
for nomination as president, his address being regarded as a 
most brilliant effort in behalf of Iowa's candidate. 

Mr. Baldwin in 1901 was the principal speaker at the 
annual banquet of the Republican Club of the Borough of 
Manhattan in the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. He made a great hit 
with the press and was referred to as "the Roscoe Conkling 
of the West." Mr. Harriman selected Mr. Baldwin to deliver 
the address on behalf of the Harriman lines before the Inter- 
national Railway congress, May 11, 1905. His address was 
entitled "West of the Missouri River," and attracted great 
attention and elicited unstinted praise from all who had the 
pleasure of hearing it. 

At the thirty-sixth annual reunion of the Army of the 
Tennessee in Council Bluffs, November 8, 1906, Mr. Baldwin 
was the principal speaker, his subject being "General Gren- 
ville M. Dodge," in the course of which he spoke in most elo- 
quent terms of General Dodge's part in the construction of 
the Union Pacific and his other achievements both military and 
civic. 

The people of Omaha and vicinity had the pleasure of 
hearing Mr. Baldwin make the principal address at the open- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 387 

ing of the trans-Mississippi exposition in 1898. Air. Baldwin 
was frequently called upon to deliver addresses on important 
public occasions not only here but in all parts off the United 
States. He was often urged to run for public office while a 
resident of Iowa but invariably refused. In 1900 he was con- 
sidered at the national republican convention in Philadelphia 
as a candidate for vice-president, but he threw his strength to 
Senator Dolliver of Iowa. But Piatt and Depew handed the 
vice-presidency to Roosevelt. 

Mr. Baldwin took an active interest in Nebraska politics, 
and was a very popular and influential man in Omaha and 
throughout the state. He became a citizen of Omaha in 1904. 
Mr. Baldwin was a great natural lawyer. One of the most 
important cases that he was ever engaged in was the mining 
suit of James Doyle versus James F. Burns. He won the suit 
for his client Doyle, the jury finding a verdict of $450,000. 
This was one of the largest verdicts ever recoverd in a damage 
suit in the United States. 

Elver loyal to his friends John N. Baldwin was a warm 
hearted man, and ever generous to all appeals to his 
purse; in fact he had but a slight conception of the 
value of money so far as himself was concerned, but as to its 
value in doing good for others he was well aware of its worth. 
Mr. Baldwin died on Master Sunday. 1908, being survived by 
his wife and two children, Genevieve, who is now Mrs. Arthur 
P. Guiou, and John X.. named after his father. That law runs 
in the family is evidenced by the fact that the son, John N., 
following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, be- 
Came a lawyer, having been admitted to the bar in 1911, He 
served as captain of an artillery company overseas in the world 

war. In 1 ( >3) the republicans of Douglas county elected him 

as public defender. 

When William l\ Gurley began practicing law he was 
one of the youngest members of the old-time Omaha bar — 
an association of high reputation of which there are only a 
few survivors. Today Mr. Gurley is ranked as one of the 
leading lawyers of Omaha. Me was born in Davenport, [owa, 
in 1861. His father was a pioneer lawyer of Davenport, ha\ 
Ing located there in 1853. In 1863 President Lincoln appointed 



388 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



Mr. Gurley's father as United States district attorney for the 
state of Iowa. This appointment came as a reward for faithful 
and efficient service as clerk for Lincoln while he was a mem- 
ber of congress. In 1863 he was again honored by President 

Lincoln who appointed him 
consul at Quebec. He died 
in 1866. 

William F. Gnrley was 
educated in the public 
schools of Washington. 
Returning to Davenport 
in June, 1880, he spent 
a year in the law office of 
John N. Rogers, who had 
been his father's partner. 
In June, 1881, young Gur- 
ley came to Omaha, and 
has ever since made this 
city his home. His first job 
in Omaha was as a clerk 
and handy man in a lumber 
yard. His next employ- 
ment was as clerk of the 
county court under Judge 
Chadwick, and in Febru- 

Williitm P. Gurley 1 oo 1 1 1 Vi 1 

ary, 1884, he was admitted 
to the bar. The following year he spent in the law office of 
Thurston & Hall, and during the next year he was secretary 
for United States Senator Manderson. Mr. Curley began the 
active practice of law in 1886, and in 1889 he was appointed 
deputy county attorney under Edward W. Simeral. 

During the early years of his career Mr. Gurley's prac- 
tice was devoted largely to criminal cases in the defense of 
which he was remarkably successful. Civil business came to 
him later and he gradually abandoned criminal practice. 
President Harrison appointed him assistant United States dis- 
trict attorney for Nebraska under Benjamin S. Baker, but he 
declined the honor. 

Mr. Gurley was chairman of the Nebraska delegation to 




THE STORY OF OMAHA 389 

the national republican convention in 1900. During the last 
fifteen years he has taken but little interest in politics, and 
has attended closely to his law business which has grown to 
large proportions. He has associated with him two well-known 
and able young lawyers — David A. Fitch and Ralph M. West 
— the firm being Gurley, Fitch & West. 

Mr. Gurley has won wide renown as an eloquent orator 
and has been the honored speaker at numerous important pub- 
lic gatherings, political meetings, and banquets of leading clubs 
and other organizations throughout the country, but of late 
years he has declined many invitations to deliver addresses 
upon public occasions as his law practice has demanded his 
entire time. 

A decided sensation was created in Omaha in the sum- 
mer of 1892 by the mysterious disappearance of Joseph R. 
Clarkson, a prominent member of the bar and ex-judge of 
the district court. A wide search was made for him, without 
immediate success. His clothes, watch and money were found 
on the banks of Honey Lake, about twelve miles from Council 
Bluffs, and the conclusion was that he had gone in bathing 
and had been drowned. The lake was thoroughly dragged 
but no body was found. This added to the mystery. It was 
finally concluded that he was dead, and the members of the 
bar passed appropriate resolutions. Steps were taken to re- 
cover several thousand dollars of life insurance. The insur- 
ance companies insisted that Clarkson had not been drowned. 

and refused to paw In November he was found working as 
a laborer, under an assumed name, in Clinton, Iowa. 

Judge Clarkson returned to Omaha, but was unable to 
give any account of himself and seemed to be wholly ignorant 

of his disappearance. Me now became a Christian Scientist, 

but passed an examination in the Episcopal church for ordina- 
tion as a minister. Ordination was refused and instead he 

was made a lav-worker. Later he returned to Christian Science. 

and eventually became a member <>f the board of lectureship 
of the First church of Christ, in Boston, but in 1895 he left 

tin- church on account of a difference of opinion with the 

leaders. 

\ few years after the mysterious disappearance epi '"!<• 



390 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Judge Clarkson left Omaha and returned to Kenosha, Wis- 
consin, his old home, where he so'on again disappeared and re- 
appeared under circumstances somewhat similar to those of 
his previous vanishment. Judge Clarkson is said to have been 
a victim of amnesia or lapse of memory. He died in Kenosha 
in January, 1923. 

Judge Clarkson was the son of Joseph P. Clarkson, an 
eminent Chicago lawyer, who was one of the best copyright 
lawyers in the United States. He was also a nephew of Bishop 
Clarkson, the first Episcopal bishop of Nebraska. Judge 
Clarkson was graduated from Yale, and after tutoring for 
several years in Latin and Greek there, studied law in his 
father's office. In 1880 he came to Omaha and entered into 
a law partnership with George J. Hunt, and in 1883, when 
the firm of Manderson & Congdon dissolved — Manderson 
having been elected United States Senator — the law firm of 
Congdon, Clarkson & Hunt was formed. This partnership 
continued for nine years, with the exception of two years while 
Judge Clarkson served on the district court bench. The mem- 
bers of the bar nominated him on the non-political ticket and 
he was elected, but after serving two years resigned to re- 
sume the practice of law. 

Isaac E. Congdon, his old associate, pays this tribute to 
Judge Clarkson : "The local bar has never had a better trial 
lawyer than Joe Clarkson. He was appealing in his talk, a 
quick thinker, well educated and, all in all, a lovable fellow." 

Leroy S. Estelle, a native of Ohio, served in the war for 
the preservation of the Union, and was admitted to the bar in 
1870, and began practice in Red Cloud, Nebraska. In 1874 
he moved to Omaha. He was elected district attorney in 1884, 
holding the office one term, and in 1891 he was appointed judge 
of the Fourth district. He was elected district judge in 1899, 
and held the office up to the time of his death in 1920. Judge 
Estelle was commander of the Nebraska department of the 
Grand Army of the Republic in 1903 and 1904. 



CHAPTER XXXV 



OMAHA'S OLD-TIME DOCTORS 



GEORGE L. MILLER THE FIRST TO MINISTER TO THE ILLS OF THE 
COMMUNITY — DR. ENOS LOWE, "A SINGULARLY GIFTED 

PHYSICIAN" THE MEDICAL PROFESSION OF THE EARLY DAYS 

OF OMAHA INCLUDED MEN OF HIGH REPUTATION. 

In the pioneer period of Omaha the local doctors, as well 
as those elsewhere, had no knowledge of antitoxin, the marvel- 
ous remedy for diphtheria, once considered a fatal disease. 
Nor did they have the slightest conception of the X-ray. The 
trouble caused by the appendix was too commonly called in- 
flammation of the bowels, and appendicital surgery was un- 
known. Radium had never been heard of. The doctors of 
the early days had no idea of the germ theory of disease, the 
foundation uoon which modern knowledge of disease is built, 
and they knew nothing of antiseptic treatment in surgery and 
medicine, nor bad they any thought of the many other wonder 
fnl discoveries thai were to come. The doctor was both phy- 
sician and surgeon, and was called upon to administer to all 
the ills that human beings arc heir to. Today there are speci- 
alists of all kinds. "All round" doctors arc few and far be- 
tween. The pioneer physicians practiced under difficulties. 
They did nol have the facilities of communicating with their 
patients thai the doctors of today have through the medium of 
the telephone, and in responding to summons from distanl 
points they jogged slowly along over rough roads with horse 

and buggy, while the medical men of the present annihilate 

distance with the automobile, and occasionally with the air- 
plane 

The doctors oi the territorial times were high class pra 



392 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

tioners and many of the middle-aged people of the Omaha of 
today were by them ushered into this world and skillfully 
cared for in the occasional hours of illness as they grew to 
maturity. Some of these physicians played important roles in 
the formation of the territory and its development into a great 
state. 

The Omaha Arrow of November 3, 1854, announces the 
arrival of Dr. George L. Miller, Omaha's pioneer physician. 

Abandoning the practice of medicine, Dr. Miller turned 
to journalism in 1865, and became one of the founders of The 
Herald, in which he had a half interest, and edited — with the 
exception of six months — until 1888, when he retired from edi- 
torial w T ork. 

At the time Omaha was founded, in 1854, Dr. Enos Lowe 
was receiver of public moneys at Council Bluffs, and he became 
one of he organizers of the Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry 
company. He was elected president of the company, and from 
that time until his death he was one of the chief promoters of 
the interests of Omaha. In the war of the rebellion he served 
as one of the surgeons of the First Nebraska infantry. He 
was a brother of Jesse Lowe, Omaha's first mayor, and father 
of General W. W. Lowe, and uncle of Fred B. Lowe. The 
Herald paid this tribute to him upon his death in 1880: 

"The character of Dr. Lowe, like his noble and stately 
form, dignified and commanding, never tainted by infidelity 
to public or private duty ; always generous in service to friends 
and the community; wise in counsel as a citizen, and singularly 
gifted as a physician with insight into disease, and of the issues 
of life and death, which wait upon it; is of right entitled to 
the veneration and perpetual remembrance of all who have 
made their homes in the city of Omaha, and among whose 
founders he was one of the first for twenty-five years of its 
history." 

Dr. Harvey Link, who came to Omaha in 1856 from 
Greenville, Tennessee, where he was born in 1824, pre-empted 
a farm near Millard, twelve miles from Omaha, and there 
made his home for the balance of his life. Until his retire- 
ment he had a large practice in Douglas and Sarpy counties. 
Dr. Link ranked high in the medical profession. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



393 






It was in March, 1855, that the first Nebraska Medical 
society was incorporated, but that was as far as it got. Two 
years later another society with the same name was organized 
by these incorporators: George L. Miller, A. Chapel, \V. K. 
Thrall, J. P. Peck, A. McElwee, all of Omaha; A. B. Malcolm 
of Florence; John C. Campbell and A. Brown of Nebraska 
City; A. S. Holliday of Brownville, and E. A. Donelan of 
Plattsmouth. 

In 1866 the Omaha Medical society was organized with 
the following membership: Augustus Roeder, I. N. Rippey, 
J. H. Peabody, R. C. Moore, S. D. Mercer, L. F. Babcock, J. 
R. Conkling, William McClelland, E. H. Den, Enos Lowe, 
G. C. Monell. The president was Dr. Peck. This society at- 
tempted to gain possession of the body of Ottway G. Baker, 
hanged for the murder of Woolsey D. Higgins, but was pre- 
vented by the protest of Baker's spiritual adviser, who in- 
duced the court to revoke the order turning over the corpse 
to the medics for dissection. The society, however, appro- 
priated $75 for the purchase of a skeleton as soon as conven- 
ient, and the conclusion is that Baker's frame eventually passed 
into the hands of the Omaha doctors for educational purposes. 
,,^. Dr. fames Porter Peck, who lo- 

cated in Omaha in 1856, was a 
printer in his youth, learning the 
trade in Ohio, his native state. He 
graduated from the Cleveland 

Medical college in 1850. lie was 

the second city physician <>f Oma- 
ha, filling the position in 1S5S. In 
his early practice he was frequently 
summoned t<» attend cases of sur- 
gery at long distances from the 
City, and s. m ,n acquired a wide rep- 
utation as a skillful and successful 
Surgeon. Mr. Peek, who was a 
Li 1< >ver I 'I the h< >rsc, was , , n e 

i >t the i organizers i >f the ( tmaha 

I )n\ ing I '.irk asv, , nation in 1875, 

In- i ite being I olonel M. T, Patrick. \l Patrick, \ 1 1 




Jantea I'orirr Peek 



394 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Baker and James Stephenson. They purchased fifty acres in 
the then northern outskirts of the city — in the vicinity of what 
is now known as Kountze place. For several years this associ- 
ation and its successor promoted high class races every summer. 
And this reminds me that Dr. Peck owned a very promising 
young trotter, named Randall, which had made a record of 
2 :24 1 / 4, then considered pretty fast time and an indication that 
the animal was a coming winner in rapid company. He was 
entered at one of the race meetings in which a horse under the 
name of Small Hopes was a competitor. Small Hopes easily 
won, and the Omaha sports who had backed Randall and had 
lost heavily, suspected that Small Hopes was a ringer. An 
investigation proved such to be the fact. Small Hopes was 
shown to be Lothair, a famous eastern racer. If I am not 
mistaken the bets were called off, and the National Trotting 
association properly punished the tricky owner of Lothair. Dr. 
Peck was the father of Edward Porter Peck. 

One of the very early Omaha physicians was Dr. YV. R. 
Thrall, who, during the session of the territorial legislature of 
1857-58, was one of the principal participants in Omaha's suc- 
cessful fight for the retention of the capital. Upon leaving 
Omaha Dr. Thrall went to Cincinnati, his former place of 
residence, and was appointed United States marshal. 

Dr. William McClelland began practicing in Omaha in 
1857 and was classed as a skillful and successful surgeon and 
physician. In the so-called Pawnee war, which amounted only 
to a big scare, Dr. McClelland was one of the surgeons of the 
punitive expedition under General Thayer, the other surgeon 
being Dr. Peck. The late General Estabrook has immortalized 
the heroes of this famous campaign in a poem of thirteen 
verses, one of which is as follows : 

"Were we pained with bruise, or a felon, 

The belly-ache, or a stiff neck, 
We had only to eall on McClelland, 

Or our own faithful surgeon, Doe Peek." 

Tn the war of the rebellion Dr. McClelland was one of 
the surgeons of the First Nebraska infantry, his associates 
being Dr. Lowe and Dr. Seymour. The death of Dr. McCHland 
occurred in December, 1882. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



395 



•:-:Xv, 




Jet ii r It. <'oiiklliij£ 



Dr. Jetur R. Conkling, a native 
of New Jersey, came to Nebraska 
from Illinois in 1851, and began prac- 
tice at Tekamah. In 1863 he was ap- 
pointed post surgeon at Fort Kearney, 
and eight months later he moved to 
Omaha, soon acquiring a large prac- 
tice. He was coroner in 1865. then 
served as city physician for three 
years, and county physician in 1881. 
Dr. Conkling passed the last few 
years of his life in Florida. He was 
a brother-in-law of A. J. Hanscom. 
Many of the older long-time resi- 
dents of Omaha will remember Dr. 
James H. Seymour, a native of Con- 
necticut, who located here in 1857. He was an intense anti- 
slavery man and took a prominent part in organizing the re- 
publican party in the territory, and in 1857 was elected a mem- 
ber of the legislature. He practiced his profession with great 
success until 1861, when he answered the call of his country 
and as surgeon accompanied the First Nebraska regiment t<> 
St. LOUIS. During his absence he was again elected a member 
of the legislature, which he attended in the winter of 1862. 
At the end of the session General 'Thayer appointed him as 
permanent surgeon of the First Nebraska, which was then in 
the field of action. Dr. Seymour died in camp September 
7, 1862, at Helena, Arkansas. He was deeply beloved by every 
member of the regiment. Seymour addition to the city of 
Omaha was named in his honor by his wife. 

Dr. Gilbert C. Monell, a New Yorker, after twenty years 

of practice in the east, came t«» Omaha in 1857, and at once 
took an active interest in the public affairs of the town, at the 
same time continuing in the pursuit of his profession. In 

1859 he was associated with Thomas Gibson and \\ . X. Byers 

in founding The Rock) Mountain News, Denver's first news 
paper. Me was largel) instrumental in establishing the Deaf 
and I )mnb institute in ( I ma ha, and in tin- organization of the 
Union Pacific he was quite prominent and influential. Mr 



396 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Monell was the second owner of The Republican for a short 
time in 1858. He was the father of the wife of the late United 
States Senator P. W. Hitchcock. 

Prior to coining to Omaha in 1865 Dr. R. C. Moore had 
served as acting assistant surgeon in the Union army. He 
was city physician from 1876 to 1879, and was one of the 
organizers of the Nebraska School of Medicine and the Oma- 
ha Medical college. Dr. Moore was the father of Mrs. E. S. 
Westbrook, Mrs. Victor White and Mrs. Harry Jordan. 

Doctors Peck and Moore in 1867 were summoned to at- 
tend a man who had been scalped by the Indians. The vic- 
tim's name was William Thompson, an Englishman, who, 
while employed in the construction of the Union Pacific, had 
been attacked by the Indians and, with two or three compan- 
ions, was left for dead, Wiien he regained consciousness he 
found his scalp not far away, it having been dropped by his 
assailant. Thompson, upon reaching camp, put the scalp in a 
bucket of water, and came into Omaha by train. The scalp 
was a strip ten inches long and at one point was five inches 
wide, it having been cut from the center of the head, from the 
forehead to the neck. The wound was a terrible one, the knife 
having penetrated to the bone. When told by the doctors that 
his scalp could not be replaced by sewing Thompson was 
deeply disappointed. He had also been shot through the right 
arm and stabbed in the neck. He was sick for a long time, 
owing to a high fever. The scalp was stretched on a piece 
of board and tanned, and when Thompson recovered he took 
it away with him as a "souvenir of the occasion." He worked 
for a while in the Union Pacific shops but was always troubled 
with a pain in his head whenever he leaned forward to pick up 
anything. At times he was partly insane from the effects of 
the scalping. He returned to England, and before departing 
he presented his scalp to Dr. Moore, who preserved it in al- 
cohol for many years, and eventually presented it to the Omaha 
Public Library museum. 

Dr. J. C. Denise was an early comer and was city physi- 
cian in 1867, and in 1868 was appointed county physician, 
holding the position three years. Dr. C. II. Pinney. who was 
coroner in 1867, was associated for several years with Dr. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



397 



Coffman in practice, after which he made his home in Council 
Bluffs. Dr. George Tilden came to Omaha in 1866, soon after 
his graduation from Albany Medical college. For many years 
he was the alienist for the insanity hoard of Douglas county. 
He died in 1921. Dr. Augustus Roeder, who located in Omaha 
in 1857, was prominent in his profession, and is kindly 
remembered by the old settlers, lie was city physician in 
1862. He died in California, where he spent the later years 
of his life. 

The late Dr. Victor H. Coff- 
man came to Omaha soon after the 
close of the war of the rebellion 
with an excellent record as an 
army surgeon, and it was not long 
before he won the confidence and 
esteem of the people. lie became 
eminent in his profession, taking 
rank as one of the leading surgeons 
of the west. Dr. Coffman was a 
kind hearted and generous man. 
At one time he carried on his books 
$100,000 of non-collectible bills, 
the accumulation of many year-. 
and besides charging this amount 
to profit and loss, he did a great 
deal i »t* charit \ work. I lis collec- 
tor once presented a bill of $150 to 
a wealthy citizen whose son had 

been kicked in the breast by a mule, 

Dr. Coffman having reconstructed 

the young man. The wealthy citizen declared the bill an ex- 
tortion and raved and tore about the office. A newspaper re- 
porter, who was present, intervened by saying that Dr. Coff- 
man was right in his charge; that it was in tins way that the 
rich were called upon to pay for the work done for the p 
by the medical profession. The debtor calmed down and 
said: "That ; I never thought «>i' tli.it" And In- there 
upon wrote a check for the amount The fact was that the 
charge was moderate for the sen ices rendered in tin- I h 




\ ii. < i>n m i M 






398 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 




Coffman's death occurred in 1908. 

Equipped with a thorough medical education and a valu- 
able experience as assistant surgeon of the 149th Illinois regi- 
ment of volunteers in the war of the rebellion, Dr. Samuel 
Mercer came to Omaha in February, 1866, and continued in 
active practice for twenty years, in the course of which he held 
numerous honorary positions and was recognized as a leading 

surgeon. He organized the 
Omaha Medical college and for 
several years held the chair of 
surgery and clinical surgery in 
the medical department of the 
Nebraska state university. In 
1887 Dr. Mercer retired from 
active practice and devoted 
himself to his real estate inter- 
ests and various business enter- 
prises. He proved an excellent 
business man and a progressive 
citizen. He developed that 
part of the city known as Wal- 
nut Hill, naming it in honor of 
Walnut Hill, Marion county, 
Illinois, where he was born. 
The Mercer Hotel building, 
Twelfth and Howard streets, now occupied as a business 
house, was one of his enterprises. He built many dwellings 
which he sold on the installment plan on most favorable terms. 
Dr. Mercer was largely interested in the old cable street rail- 
way, and was the main promoter of the Omaha electric system 
under the name of the Omaha Motor Railway company, all 
the street railway corporations being eventually consolidated. 
Dr. Mercer, who died in 1907, was the father of Dr. Nelson 
Mercer, who spends a large share of his time in England and 
Ireland, his wife being of Irish nativity. 

Soon after the breaking out of the war of the rebellion 
Dr. James II. Peabody, who had graduated in 1860 from the 
medical department of Georgetown university, Washington, 
was appointed an acting assistant surgeon in the Union army, 



Samuel 



Mereer 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



399 



and served throughout the war in various capacities in the 
field and elsewhere. He rose to the rank of major. In 1864 

he was stationed in Omaha 
in charge of the medical de- 
partment of the military dis- 
trict of Nebraska, and occu- 
pied the old state house on 
Ninth street as his office 
and hospital. After being 
mustered out in August. 
1865, he went to New York 
and attended the College of 
Physicians and Surgeons and 
the leading hospitals. Upon 
returning to Omaha in 1866, 
to make this city his perma- 
nent home, he was appointed 
attending physician for the 
military officers and their 
families then stationed here. 
Dr. Peabody was one of 
the most popular physicians 
that ever practiced in ( )maha. 
I le t<>< »k pride in tracing his 
ancestry to Lieutenant Francis Peabody of St. Albans, 
Hertfordshire, England, who came to New England on the 
ship Planter in 1635. Dr. Peabody was a true sportsman and 
delighted in hunting and fishing. Jn 1859 he was one of a 
government party who -pent a short time in the Black Hills 

region in search of gold, but the gold hunters returned with 

an unfavorable report During five years of his youth Dr 
Peabody was a page in the national house of representatives, 
and became acquainted with many of the eminent men of that 
tune, among them Webster, I la\ and ( lalhoun. I le was i »flfered 
a cadetship at West Point, but refused it as he preferred to 
remain in Washington to assist in the support of his widowed 
mother. He was a brother-in-law of the late Henr) \\ Yates, 
and father of Dr, John I). Peabody, who lias made his home 
for many years in Petersburg, Florida 




.1. II. IVitliotlv 



400 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 




H. P. Jensen 



It was in the summer of 
1857 that the parents of H. 
P. Jensen, who was then thir- 
teen years of age, came to 
the United States and lo- 
cated in Omaha. At the 
breaking out of the war of 
the rebellion young Jensen 
enlisted in the Union army as 
a drummer, and later he was 
appointed quartermaster ser- 
geant of Company K, First 
Nebraska Veteran Volun- 
teer cavalry, serving until 
July 1, 1866. In September 
of that year he began the 
study of medicine, and at- 
tended a course of lecture in 
the University of Michigan. 
In the winter of 1872-73 he 
graduated at Long Island College hospital in Brooklyn. Re- 
turning to Omaha Dr. Jensen at once began the practice of 
medicine and soon took rank as one of the leading physicians 
of Omaha. He died in 1908. Mrs. Jensen, to whom he was 
married in 1874, died July 5, 1922. Mrs. Todd, the wife of 
Dr. Todd, the dentist, and Mrs. Raapke, wife of Henryr A. 
Rappke, are the daughter of Doctor and Mrs. Jensen. Percy 
Jensen, a son, is a physician. Dr. Jensen was a member of the 
Omaha Medical society, the A. F. & A. M., and the Grand 
Army of the Republic. 

Dr. Ira Van Camp came to Nebraska in 1862 and practiced 
for four years in Dakota City, then located in Omaha, remain- 
ing here until his death which occurred many years ago. Dr. 
O. S. Wood, a native of Xew York, and a graduate of Hahne- 
mann medical college, opened an office in Omaha in 1869, and 
became one of the city's best known physicians. He died in 
1911. Dr. \V. S. Gibbs, who began practicing in Omaha in 
the late '70s, and soon acquired a large clientele, is still active 
in his profession. Dr. Paul Grossman, a native of Germany. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



401 



was a highly educated man, and was very prominent as a phy- 
sician and surgeon during his Omaha career. He located in 
Omaha in 1877, and in 1890 was the local surgeon of the 
Missouri Pacific railroad. The next year he was appointed 
consulting surgeon of the Union Pacific system. Dr. Gross- 
man died in 1905. 

Coming to Omaha from New York in 1868 Dr. George 
Tilden soon won recognition as a physician of high merit. He 
was well educated, especially in the profession of medicine. 
His specialty was the treatment of mental diseases. For forty 
years Dr. Tilden was the Douglas county insanity commis- 
sioner, and for some years he was acting assistant United 
States army surgeon and pension surgeon. He retired from 
active practice in 1914, and died in August, 1921. 




CHAPTER XXXVI 



REAL ESTATE MEN OF THE PIONEER PERIOD 



BYRON REED WAS THE FIRST TO OPEN A REAL ESTATE OFFICE! 

OTHERS SOON FOLLOWED AND HELPED TO BUILD UP OMAHA 

THE DISASTROUS BOOM ENGINEERED BY C. E. MAYNE IN 

THE LATE '80s HIS SUBSEQUENT CAREER. 

The name of Byron Reed is intimately interwoven with 
the early history of Omaha. It is generally conceded by the 
old-timers that he was the pioneer real estate dealer and agent. 
Coming here in 1855 from Warren, Trumbull county, Ohio, 
where he had been employed for live years in the office of 
register of deeds, he took a casual inventory of Omaha, and 

not being satisfied with the out- 
: ,-'V t \ look of the town he ventured 

into Kansas on a prospecting 
tour. In a few months he found 
the border ruffians of Kansas 
too rough to suit him. 

Having finally determined 
to engage in the real estate 
business Mr. Reed opened an 
office in Pioneer block, where 
the county offices were located 
until the completion of the 
courthouse. He had his desk 
in the office of the county clerk, 
Peter Hugus, whom he assisted 

It \ i on iCii-il • i • it 1 or 1 i 

in lus work. In 1861 he was 







THE STORY OF OMAHA 403 

appointed the city clerk and held that position until 1867, and 
was elected county clerk in 1863, serving two years. The 
holding of these public offices did not interfere with his pri- 
vate business, but rather helped to promote it. He had acquired 
a thorough knowledge of the lay of the land in 1859, by writ- 
ing the Mayor Belden deeds that conveyed the title to the 
claims included within what was known as the Belden strip, 
which had been attached to the original town-site of 320 acres. 
It will be borne in mind that the government allowed the pre- 
emption of only 320 acres for town-site purposes. Upon re- 
tiring from the position of county clerk Mr. Reed established 
an office in 1865 in a small frame building, 212 South Four- 
teenth street, which some years later was replaced with a sub- 
stantial brick. He served as city councilman in 1871-72-73, 
and was president of that body in 1872. 

Mr. Reed, who died in 1891, left to his family a large 
fortune, acquired through profitable real estate transactions 
and judicious investments. The ground on which the public 
library building stands was donated by him to the city, and he 
also gave to the library his valuable collection of rare coins, 
together with files of old newspapers, paper money, bond-. 
documents, literary relics, autographs and books relating to the 
early history of Omaha and Nebraska and the west generally. 
In this collection, which is of great historic value and esti- 
mated to have a money value of over $50,000, will be found 
a map of the fir>t survey of Omaha, being one of the original 
Copies lithographed in St. Louis. In one corner is the follow- 
ing note: "Lots will l»e given away to persons who will im- 
prove them. Private --ale will be made on the premises. A 

newspaper, The Omaha Arrow, is published weekly at this 
place; a brick building, suitable f<T the territorial legislature, 
i- in process of Construction, and a steam saw mill will be com- 
pleted in a few weeks. 91 Dated September 1. 1854. 

Prospect Mill cemetery was for many years owned and 
conducted by Byron Reed. In 1858 Moses F. Shinn set aside 
ten a< res from hi- pre emption claim for a cemetery, the first 
burial there being thai of J. I*. Winship, and the second l>« i 

that of Alon/" I Salisbury, member <>f the territorial council. 
Jesse LoWC also opened a tei I meterv adjoining 



404 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

that of Shinn, and in which several burials were made. In 
1859 Mr. Reed purchased Shinn's ten acres and fifteen acres 
from Lowe, and of the twenty-five acres he dedicated four- 
teen for cemetery purposes, with reversion to himself and heirs 
in case the ground should ever be diverted to any other use. 
Mr. Reed named the cemetery Prospect Hill and conducted 
it for twenty years at a loss, and then turned it over to the 
Forest Lawn Cemetery association. In 1890 the lot owners 
organized an association and took charge of Prospect Hill, 
and later acquired additional ground. 

Mr. Reed, who was a native of New York, and w r hose 
father in 1842 founded the town of Darien, in Walworth 
county, Wisconsin, was a lineal descendant in the sixth gen- 
eration from William Reade of Woburn, Massachusetts, who, 
according to the records of the New England Historic Gene- 
alogic society, was born in 1657, and was the oldest of any 
of the Puritan emigrants of the name of Reade, landing in 
Boston in 1635. In the course of time the name of Reade was 
changed to Reed. 

In 1863 Lewis S. Reed, a nephew, became associated with 
Byron Reed in business, and grew r to be quite a prominent citi- 
zen. He was elected a member of the legislature, was county 
clerk from 1873 to 1875, and was president of the Public 
Library board. He spent several years in Paris, and return- 
ing to Omaha he died in 1918. 

Harry D. Reed, brother of Lewis, entered the service of 
Byron Reed & Co. in 1876 and has for several years been en- 
gaged in the abstract business. Abraham L. Reed, son of 
Byron Reed, became a member of the firm in 1887, and is 
now president of the Byron Reed company. Byron Hastings, 
after many years in the employment of the Byron Reed com- 
pany, became an expert real estate man, and organized the 
firm of Hastings & Heyden. 

.Among the other old-timers who dealt in real estate more 
or less were A. J. Hanscom, John I. Redick, Frank Murphy, 
George and Joseph Barker, Moses F. Shinn, John A. Horbach, 
the Kountze brothers, H. O. Jones, Captain C. H. Downs. S. 
E. Rogers, O. F. Davis, John H. Kelloin, John M. Clarke. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 405 

Bartlett & Smith. The latter was the father of 'Watson B. 
and Howard Smith. 

Captain Downs was a very active man in his younger 
days and did much in helping to build up Omaha. He was 
connected with the company that erected the territorial capi- 
tol, and was one of the promoters of the Omaha smelter, serv- 
ing five years as the president of the company. He dumped 
$75,000 in the Omaha & Northwestern railroad, now a part of 
the Northwestern system. Captain Downs always claimed 
that he was the original settler on the site of Omaha, having 
moved a shack June 1, 1854, to a location near the Lone Tree, 
foot of Davenport street, and occupied it whenever on the 
Omaha side of the river. But his real home was in Council 
Bluffs. He was captain of the first steam ferry boat, the 
General Marion. Captain Downs was a member of the Iowa 
& Nebraska Ferry company. 

John M. Clarke, a Virginian, who came to Omaha in 
1856, took up the real estate business in 1864, and continued 
in it until his death in 1895. Mr. Clarke kept a diary of all 
important events since his early manhood. In 1891 several 
columns of extracts from this diary were published in an ( hna- 

ha paper, proving very interest- 
ing and serving to refresh the 
\ memory. 

v- s George 1\ Bemis, hailing 

from Boston, came to Omaha in 

'■ *% 1868 as secretary and manager 

i A the I redit Foncier ol America, 
a corporation organized by his 
cousin, George Francis Train. 
for the promotion of Union Pa- 
cific interests ;h well as his Own. 

For seventeen years he was 
Train's private secretary and was 
obliged eventually to sue for sev- 
eral ) ears back salary. 1 [e 
cured judgment an<l levied on 
Qctitf p. 11,-mu. minor of Train's Credit Foncier addition, 

Omul.u fro... |H»J to IMMI ;m ,| ,| lr (l(x | „-, ,| ,(•,-( v m US MVIIlnl 




406 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

gave him a- boost in the real estate business. He had accom- 
panied Train in his globe-trotting tours and had gained an 
extensive knowledge of the world. Air. Bemis at one time was 
very prosperous and carried on an extensive business. For a 
time he had a partner named Bowers, after whom Bowers' 
addition is named. One of the big hits of Bemis & Bowers 
was the selling of Park Place, the property of the Lowe estate, 
west of Creighton university. Bowers, upon leaving Omatia 
and locating in the east, became a trust magnate and acquired 
great wealth. Bemis w r as mayor of Omaha from 1892 to 
1896. He died in 1916. 

Tiring of the railway mail service on the Union Pacific 
George H. Boggs and Lewis W. Hill quit their jobs, and under 
the firm name of Boggs & Hill established a real estate office 
in Omaha in 1874. Land was cheap in those days and they 
had easily secured possession of several large tracts in Stan- 
ton, Wayne and Cedar counties, while they were in the rail- 
way mail service. They soon disposed of their holdings 
at a handsome profit and then devoted their attention to city 
real estate. They became extensive advertisers, and as a re- 
sult did a thriving trade. In 1876 they bought considerable 
property west of the present Kountze Memorial church and 
north of Farnam streets, and platted Boggs & Hill's first and 
second additions. The lots were sold on favorable terms 
and the purchasers were assisted in building dwellings of mod- 
est dimensions. These two men died very wealthy. Lew 
Hill, who was a bachelor, left the Her Grand hotel corner to 
his nephews, John and Lemuel Hill, who have there erected the 
Hotel Hill, a handsome thirteen-story structure. George T. 
Wilson, another nephew, fell heir to the building occupied by 
Browning, King & Co. Shirley Wilson, also a nephew, was 
liberally remembered. 

John T. Bell was one of the donors of fifty-five acres 
incorporated as a part of Elm wood park, among the other 
donors being Lyman Richardson and Leopold Doll. For a 
brief period Bell was a partner of W. G. Shriver, and later 
of G. W. Ames. The latter was a somewhat successful real 
estate dealer. Ames avenue takes its name from him. This 
avenue was extended to take in Croft avenue, on which thor- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



407 




iieornv \. Hicks 



oughfare was located the no- 
torious Croft roadhouse, 
which some of the old-time 
sports will no doubt remember. 
Bell died in Oakland, Cali- 
fornia, in 1919. Another well- 
known real estate operator, 
who began business in Oma- 
ha in 1878 and continued un- 
til recent years, was George 
X. Hicks. A. P. Tukey, who 
opened an office in 1881, is 
still in business. 

The biggest and most 
disastrous real estate boom 
experienced in Omaha was engineered by Clifton E. Mayne, 
native of [owa, and a telegraph operator. When twenty years 
of age he came to Omaha and secured the position of chief 
operator in the Western Union. He held this position for 
four years, then put his savings in an Iowa coal mine which 
proved a failure. Returning to Omaha, he for a brief period 
found employment as a bookkeeper for The Omaha Bee, and 
later with the Barker Brothers in their real estate office. It 
was in 1883 that he ventured on his own account into real 
estate with "a shoestring/' the synonym for slim capital. How- 
ever, he was full of pep, ambition and confidence, and soon 
forged to the front. Me was a big advertiser, and caught the 
crowd coming and going. As a promoter he led the procession, 

and won the Confidence of the public. In 1887 he bad risen to 

sucb importance in the community that he wa^ chosen a mem- 
ber ot the board of public works, "a position for which he was 
admirably fitted," said one of the publications of that period. 
Mayne, who was ranked as a public spirited citizen, invested 

liberally in nearly every big enterprise that was for the wel- 
fare of the city. He built a costly residence i >n \« >rth Twenty- 
fourth street, which e\entuall\ passed int<» the possession of 

John I. Redick. 

The first highly profitable deal made 1»\ Mayne was 
in 1885 when he purchased Orchard I Ml the \ ll Baker 



40N 



THK STORY OF OMAHA 



farm — from S. S. II. Clark, 
and Guy C. Barton, who 
had bought the property on 
a speculative v e ntur e. 
Mayne paid a high price for 
this tract, but platting it in- 
to lots he soon disposed of 
it at a handsome advance. 
Mayne was employed by J. 
M. Eddy, in the interest of 
the Missouri Pacific, to se- 
cure the right of way for 
the Omaha belt line, and for 
this work he was well paid. 

Mayne was the first real 
estate dealer in Omaha to 
employ a number of sales- 
men and furnish them with 
fast horses and light bug- 
gies in order to swiftly con- 
vey customers to far out- 
lying property, thus mak- 
ing the distance seem but a 
few T minutes from the business center. During 1886 and 1887 
everything moved smoothly with Mayne. Speculation in real 
estate was at fever heat, and he reaped a rich harvest in pay- 
ments down and promissory notes, and was rated a millionaire 
— on paper. A stable of race horses was added to the Mayne 
equipment and was sent on circuit. Mayne was then cutting 
a wide swath through Omaha pocketbooks. In The Omaha 
Republican of January 2, 1887, there is a long and laudatory 
article relating Mayne's exploitations, in the course of which 
appears this paragraph : 

"In addition to his excellent qualifications as a sedate 
man of business, Mr. Mayne possesses an ardent admiration 
for horse flesh, and displays the dash, the shrewdness, and 
keen, cool judgment of the thorough horseman. He is already 
making his arrangements for the racing season of 1887, and 
with his present string of flyers it is possible that the coming 




C. K. Mayne 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 409 

year will see a number of victories upon the turf added to 
those he has already recorded."' 

In April, 1887, the beginning of the collapse came. A 
portion of the poor farm — now the Field club district — was 
thrown on the market and the sharpers bought the lots at 
auction, putting up $25 options on each piece, but when they 
tried to sell at an advance they found very few takers. 

The original poor farm — consisting of 170 acres — was 
purchased in 1859 from H. Z. Chapman for $6,000. He was 
paid $2,000 in county warrants — with 50 cents on the dollar — 
and was given promissory notes for the balance. These notes 
were signed by the three county commissioners — James H. 
McArdle, Sylvanus Dodge and Harrison Johnson — as their 
personal obligations, and they in their official capacity se- 
cured the payment of the notes by mortgaging the land, giv- 
ing Chapman the first lien. Chapman was obliged to bring 
suit for collection, but was defeated on the ground that the 
commissioners violated the law in mortgaging county prop- 
erty. Chapman left the territory and died a few years later. 
However, in 1885 his heirs recovered judgment in the United 
States supreme court for principal and interest, amounting to 
$14,732, which the county paid. About this time County 
Commissioners O'Keefe, Corliss and Timme decided to raise 
money for the erection of a county hospital by selling the east 
fifty acres of the farm. This was done, and the land was 
platted into 235 lots. The sale was held at public auction 
when the real estate boom was at its height. The sale brought 

$.^0,480, of which $191,035 was in cash and the balance in 

notes secured by mortgage on the lots. It was discovered that 

the VOte of the people authorizing this sale had not been car- 
ried by the required two-thirds majority, and a large number 

of purchasers brought suit for the recovery of their money on 

the ground that the election was void and that the sales were 

illegal. 

From that time values and sales all over the town gradu- 
ally decreased. Nevertheless, Mayne continued in every way 
t<» steady the market In the morning of the day of the great 
blizzard in the winter of 1888 a large sleigh riding party drove 

Over to I ouncil Bluffs, and m the procession Mayne had fifteen 



410 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

sleighs each carrying the sign : "C. E. Mayne Real Estate and 
Trust Company/' This shows that he was some advertiser. 
Three months later Mayne encountered a financial blizzard that 
wound up his career in Omaha. The banks and creditors 
struck him hard with a bundle of lawsuits. His appeals to 
\Y. A. Paxton, Lew Hill and other prominent men to help him 
tide over the storm proved unavailing. In a few weeks the 
Mayne boom completely collapsed and real estate in Omaha 
became a drug on the market. Numerous men had engaged 
in the business and they were now obliged to turn to some 
other occupation. And the offices that they had occupied 
knew them no more. A large sum of money was sunk in the 
ground and has never been recovered by the original investors 
who had hopes of making a fortune over night. 

Colonel S. S. Curtis was vice president of the Mayne 
company and signed all the papers, and as a consequence was 
obliged "to make good" in numerous cases. This distressed 
him financially for several years. However, his real estate 
holdings eventually became valuable and put him once more 
on Easy street. 

Mayne went to San Francisco and succeeded in securing 
a franchise from the city for an electric street railway to Gol- 
den Gate park and the Cliff house. This was done in the in- 
terest of Sutro, who owned Sutro heights, near the Cliff house, 
and was in opposition to the steam road. Sutro was the man 
who dug the Sutro tunnel at the Comstock or Bonanza mines, 
at Virginia City, Nevada. Sutro's electric road was built 
and was a financial success. But Mayne was made to suffer 
for the part he had played in the enterprise. He had incurred 
the wrath of the politicians, especially of Buckley, the blind 
boss. Mayne went down to Los Angeles and opened a real 
estate office. A little later he was arrested on the charge of 
having caused the downfall of two girls who were under age. 
He was convicted and sentenced to twenty-five years in the 
penitentiary. The case was appealed, and at the end of eighteen 
months the supreme court decided that the evidence did not 
warrant the verdict, and ordered the release o\ Mayne, who 
had been in jail all this time. The inference was that Mayne 
had been made the victim of a frame-up. 1 le next operated 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



411 



in Nevada mines, having his headquarters in Oakland, Califor- 
nia. A few years later he ventured into the zinc mines in the 
Joplin district in Missouri. 

Another bold operator, 
who ran a close second to 
Mayne, was W. G. Albright. 
He was a native of Iowa and 
came to Omaha in December, 
1885. Organizing a syndicate 
in August, 1886, he made his 
first big purchase, consisting 
of a tract of land adjoining 
South Omaha on the south, 
and named it Albright's An- 
nex. It was platted into lots, 
all of which were sold within 
ten days from the time they 
were put on the market. They 
were sold at auction, this be- 
ing the first real estate auction 
ever held in Nebraska. Al- 
bright next bought 280 acres, 
and in January, 1887, adver- 
tised the property as Albright's 
Choice, and within six weeks 

sold $250,000 worth of lots on 

"the small payment down" 
plan. S( >« 'ii after the bursting 
of the real estate balloon 
Albright departed, with a well-filled pocketbook, for new fields 

of adventure. While in Omaha lie was a tall bustler, a pa- 
tron of the national indoor game of poker, and wore diamonds 
In 1893 came the financial depression and bank failures, 
f( >1 lowed in 1894 by the destructive hoi winds and crop failures, 
and in L89S by a partial failure of crops. During these years 

about the Only real estate sales that were made were conducted 

by the sheriff under foreclosure of mort| The l< 

notices of foreel tilled' >f the newspapers and netted 

them a bandsome pr< A it 




w . <. 



\ III IL- I.I 



412 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



The biggest single real estate transaction in the history 
of Omaha up to 1890 was the purchase of ninety-nine acres 
by the Omaha Bridge and Terminal company, an annex of 
the Illinois Central railway. This land, in East Omaha, was 
bought in the interest of the Illinois Central, which soon after 
built a bridge over the Missouri and entered Omaha. The 
Byron Reed estate received $310,000 from the sale; Sylvester 
Cunningham and William Thompson, $162,500; Charles H. 
Brown and J. J. O'Connor, $48,000; Benjamin S. Allison, 
$60,000, and John A. Horbach, $88,400. The land was hand- 
led for the market by the East Omaha Land company. 



.<■■■■ 




Snmuel K. RoRers 




O. P. I):ivi* 



In 1886 the Omaha Real Estate Exchange was organized, 
the original members being the Omaha Real Estate and Trust 
company, Marshall & Lobeck, Bell & McCandlish, Hartman & 
Gibson, Mead & Jamieson, Gregory & Hadley, W. G. Shriver 
and M. A. Upton & Co. Others, who soon joined, were Clark 
& French, Alvin Saunders of the Omaha Loan and Trust 
company, John B. Evans & Co., Ballou Brothers, George N. 
Hicks, and George P. Bemis. The first officers were: Alvin 
Saunders, president; John T. Bell, vice president; David 
famieson, secretary; J. YV. Marshall, treasurer. The ex- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



413 



change was reorganized in 1889, and in 1890 it disbanded ow- 
ing to the slump in property. However, today there is in 
Omaha a real estate exchange, having a large number of mem- 
bers who call themselves realtors, a word coined especially for 
them. 

It was in 1880 that John L. McCague ventured into the 
real estate business in Omaha, and he has continued in it ever 
since. Mr. McCague was born in Cairo, Egypt, where his 
father, Rev. Thomas McCague, accompanied by his wife, was 
sent in 1854 as a missionary by the United Presbyterian 
church of the United States. Rev. McCague was very suc- 
cessful in his missionary labors especially along the Nile. He 
established the American Mission, which developed wonder- 
fully and has extended far into the heart of the Dark Con- 
tinent. Colonel Roosevelt, after his return from his hunting 
adventures, delivered an address in Omaha in the course of 
which he spoke in glowing terms of the civilization and Chris- 
tianizing accomplishments achieved in the wilds of Central 

Africa by the United Pres- 
byterian or American Mis- 
sion, and incidentally re- 
ferred to the fact that a citi- 
zen of Omaha — Rev. Mr. 
Mc( !ague was the found- 
er of this great institution. 

The health of Rev. Mc- 

( lague l>r< >ke d\ >wn in the 
early 60s, and. accompan- 
ied by bis family, he was 
Compelled to return to the 

I 'mted States. In 1867 he 
came t< i ( )maba fr< >m ( )hio 

and established the First 
Presbyterian church in this 

City. lie died in 1914 at 

the f ninety-five /ears 

lie w as kn< »w n f< >r bis eat 

and ( liristian char- 
acter. Mrs. Mc( ague passed 




.loiin I.. >!«■( ague 



414 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

away in 1911. They were the parents of a large family, the 
members of which have become quite prominent in social and 
business affairs. 

John L. McCagne, who was for several years in the ser- 
vice of the Union Pacific, was forced to quit railroad work 
on account of failing eyesight. He selected the real estate 
business for his vocation, as it would give him less confine- 
ment and offer more opportunity for bettering his finances. 
Even at that time — way back in 1880 — he foresaw the future 
of Omaha and became convinced that the day would come 
when real estate, then at an almost complete standstill, w r ould 
have an upward tendency and that great activity in invest- 
ments and improvements generally would result. He was not 
mistaken. Beginning in a small way Mr. McCague soon "set 
things to moving." His signs appeared in all sections of the 
city, the farthest west being those located at Twenty-fifth 
street. His business gradually grew to large proportions. But 
he met with "tips and downs," especially the latter, in the oc- 
casional periods of financial depression. But during the last 
twenty years he has been on the upward trend. He has handled 
many big and intricate deals for the railroads and other cor- 
porations, as well as for private parties. The McCague build- 
ing, now owned by the Omaha Loan and Building association, 
was one of his enterprises. Mr. McCague served one term as 
president of the Chamber of Commerce. He takes great interest 
in public affairs generally, and is very active in assisting any 
enterprise that tends for the bettering of Omaha's commercial 
and moral conditions. 



CHAPTER XXXVII 



EARLY MILITARY HISTORY 



THE MILITIA AN INDIAN SCARE IN 1855 PAWNEE WAR IN 

1859 MILITIA CALLED OUT BRIEF BUT GLORIOUS CAM- 
PAIGN OMAHA AND NEBRASKA IN THE CIVIL WAR INDIAN 

S< ARE OF 1864 SETTLERS FLOCK INTO OMAHA THE CITY 

UNDER GUARD THE SCOUT OF CAPTAIN TAFFE's COMPANY 

— CAMPAIGN OF CAPTAIN PORTER'S COMPANY. 

Military titles were almost as numerous in Omaha and 
vicinity in 1855 as they were at the close of the civil war, ten 
years later. Many of our citizens are under the impression 
that John M. Thayer first gained the title of general in the 
war of the rebellion. Such is not the fact, however. He was 
a general in 1855. Another fact not generally known is that 
A.J. I [anscorn was a colonel in the early days of Omaha, and 
had served in the Mexican war as captain of a Michigan com- 
pany. Upon examination of the territorial records we find 
that two regiments of militia were organized in 1855, under 
authority of a proclamation issued by Acting-Governor I um- 
ing <>n December 23, 1854, in which he recommended the for- 
mation of two regiments of volunteers. Commissions were 
i — ued a- follows: John M. Thayer, brigadier-general, first 
brigade; Peter A. Sarpy, quartermaster-general; William Eng- 
lish, commissary-general; John l». Folsom, adjutant; II. 1'. 
I )o\\ ns, inspect >r-general, 

First regiment A. I. Hanscom, colonel; William C 
James, lieutenant colonel; rlascal C. I'm pie. major; J, I). \. 
Thompson, Thomas I.. GrifTy, adjutants ; John l». Robertson, 
quartermaster; Anselum Arnold, commissary; M. II (lark. 
Burgei 'ii : ' e L M iller, assi tant surge* >n 



416 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Second regiment — David M. Johnson, colonel; Richard 
Brown, quartermaster; Gideon Bennett, commissary; William 
McLennan, adjutant; Isaiah H. Crane, surgeon; William Ham- 
ilton, assistant surgeon. 

The militia was organized for protection against the 
Indians. The Pawnees in the spring of 1855 had committed 
depredations in Dodge county. A commission, consisting of 
J. M. Thayer and O. D. Richardson, held a council with these 
Indians on the Platte river. The Indians were informed of 
the desire of the government for peaceful relations, and at 
the same time they were told that they would be held to a strict 
account for any depredations. The result of this council, how- 
ever, was not considered satisfactory, and hence the organiza- 
tion of the militia. It was a wise precaution, as it gave to the 
settlers a feeling of security, and no doubt kept the Indians 
in check. A band of hostile Sioux appeared near Fontenelle 
in July, 1855, and caused quite a scare among the settlers. 
Governor Izard at once authorized General Thaver to raise 
and equip a volunteer company of forty men. The first com- 
pany of volunteer militia was also assigned to service under 
General Thayer, to whom further authority was given to de- 
mand an increase of force, if necessary. The scare, however, 
subsided with the disappearance of the Sioux. 

Four years later, in the summer of 1859, the volunteers 
were called into active service in the so-called Pawnee war, 
Omaha took a prominent part in that episode of our territorial 
history. On July 1st messengers arrived in the city from 
Fontenelle and other points in that vicinity with the startling 
news that the Pawnee Indians were driving off stock, burning- 
houses, and threatening the lives of the people. General 
Thayer started immediately for the scene of hostilities with 
the light artillery company of Omaha, in command of Cap- 
tain James H. Ford. Upon the evening of the 5th of July, 
Governor Black, who had been temporarily visiting in Ne- 
braska City, arrived in Omaha with a portion of company K, 
United States dragoons, in command of Lieutenant Robertson. 
Advices from General Thayer at Fontenelle were to the effect 
that the settlements for fifty miles had been broken up and 
abandoned, and vigorous action was necessary. Governor 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 417 

Black lost no time in organizing a small army with which to 
reinforce General Thayer, whom he joined on the morning 
of the 8th, south of the Elkhorn river. The consolidated army 
consisted of about 200 men, and was officered as follows: 
Commander-in-chief, Governor Black; major-general com- 
manding expedition, John M. Thayer. The staff of Com- 
mander-in-Chief Black was composed of the following: Lieu- 
tenant-colonels John McConihe, R. K. Bowie, C. D. Wool- 
worth, Samuel A. Lowe. General Thayer's staff consisted of 
Captains R. H. Howard, A. S. Paddock, Witt Black, J. W. 
Pattison. The companies were as follows: 

Omaha Light Artillery — with one six-pounder cannon 
— Captain, James H. Ford; first lieutenant, E. G. McNeely; 
sergeant, William Searight. Sixteen men, one wagon, twenty- 
one horses. 

First Dragoons — Captain, George F. Kennedy; first lieu- 
tenant, J. C. Reeves; second lieutenant, C. A. Henry; first 
lergeant, J. S. Bowen. Fifty-two men, four wagons, fifty- 
leven horses. 

Second Dragoons — Captain, R. W. Hazen; first lieuten- 
ant, William West; second lieutenant, II. C. Campbell; ser- 
ge-ant, Abram McNeil. Fifty-one men. five wagons, forty- 
six horse 

Fontenelle Mounted Rifles Captain, William Kline; 
first lieutenant, James A. Bell; second lieutenant, William S. 
Flack; sergeant, John II. Francis. 

Columbus Infantry Captain Michael Weaver; first lieu- 
tenanl, William Granman ; sergeant. John Browner. Tliirtv- 
seven men, four wagons, eleven horses. 

Columbus Guards Captain, J. Rickley; first lieutenant. 
J. I'. Becker; second lieutenant. J. C. Woolfel. Eleven nun. 

When regularly organized the regimental officers were: 
Governor Black, commander-in-chief; |olm M. Thayer, ma- 
jor-general; William \. West, colonel; B. II. Robertson, 
I'mied States army, lieutenant-colonel; Samuel R. Curtis, in- 
Ipector-general ; E. Estabrook, adjutant; Reed, major; W. 
I I larke, quartermaster ; \. U. Wyman, commissary ; Henry 
Page, wagon-master; I P. Peck, William McClelland, sur 
*e< »iis. 



i 



418 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

The campaign was brief but glorious. General Thayer in 
his report tells the result in a very concise manner : "The 
troops came upon the Indians and the Indians surrendered. 
The line was formed, the cannon was planted, and the chiefs 
of all the different bands came forward, throwing down their 
arms and raising white flags. The interpreter was directed to 
communicate with them and they asked to have a council. They 
acknowledged that their young men had committed these de- 
predations and offered to give them up, and did bring forward 
six, who were surrendered. Two of them were shot as they 
were trying to escape the next day. The guards informd me. 
I did not see it done." 

One of the somewhat exciting and rather amusing inci- 
dents of this celebrated campaign was the attempted trapping 
of some Indians in the house of a Air. Moore. A small squad 
of the w y hite troops secreted themselves in one room and the 
members of the family occupied another apartment, with in- 
structions to invite the approaching Indians to enter the house. 
Eleven Pawnees walked in'and at a signal the soldiers rushed 
in upon them, but the slippery visitors shed their blankets, 
dived down among the legs of the white men, and slid out 
between them and burst open the door which had been locked 
after they had entered. One of the soldiers was wounded 
slightly in the wrist by the accidental discharge of a gun by 
one of his comrades. The Indians were pursued, and two or 
three were killed, one wounded, and one was captured. The 
others made their escape. The wounded Pawnee, while being 
conveyed in a wagon, pretended to be dead, and his guards 
pitched the supposed corpse into the river. The Indian sudden- 
ly came to life and swam under water for the opposite shore. 
When he came to the surface to get air a load of buckshot 
struck him in the back of the head. That finished his career. 

The war ended at a conference between the whites and the 
Pawnees. The chiefs were told that they could have their 
choice of either fighting or surrendering the small party of 
braves who had been engaged in marauding in the vicinity ol 
West Point, and paying the expenses of the expedition out of 
moneys due them from the government. They accepted the 
latter proposition. Seven young bucks were delivered to the 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 419 

whites who tied them behind their wagons. The white army 
then moved on. Soon after going into camp one of the pris- 
oners was found to have been shot through the body. He was 
one of the party who had escaped from Mr. Moore's house. 
One of the doctors of the expedition declared that he would 
not live to reach the settlements. He was therefore set free 
and told to go back to his tribe. He was found dead next 
morning a short distance from the camp. 

While the army was passing the Indian camp a young 
sqttaw, who belonged to one of the prisoners, and who had 
been refused her request to accompany him the day before, 
ran up to the wagon, behind which the captives were bound, 
and gave her buck a knife with which he apparently stabbed 
himself in the breast. He fell to the ground, and the wagon 
was stopped. A reddish substance was seen oozing from the 
corners of his mouth. While the guards were examining the 
supposed wounded prisoner, and endeavoring to assist him, 
the squaw secured the knife and cut the ropes thus releasing 
the other prisoners who took to flight. The guards pursued 
and fired at them. The wounded buck then jumped up and 
Started to run. but a guard halted him with a pointed rifle. It 
was then discovered that his self-inflicted wound was only 
skin deep, and that the blood that came from his month was 
simply caused by chewing red <>ehre. Me was again tied to 
the wagon and the procession renewed its tramp. The guards 
who had pursued the escaped prisoners returned and reported 
that they had either killed or wounded all the fugitives. In 
the excitement of the chase they had WOUnded one of the 

peaceful Omaha- and also killed an Omaha pony. Soon a iter 
a delegation of the chief men of the ( tmahas came to the camp 
and demanded an explanation. "We deprecated the accidental 

shooting of tin- Omaha/' said a member of the expedition t<> 
the writer, "promising to hang the man who had fired the 
unfortunate shot We mentioned the fact that the Oihahas 
had been at peace with us ever since the first settlement of 
the territory. We had regular details made t<- talk t<> those 

old chap-, who had one side "I their villainous looking O'lin- 

tenances painted red and the other side black, and when one 
detail hausted another took its place. In this way we 



420 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

outwinded them. They finally agreed that if we would leave 
medicines for the wounded Indian, and pay for the pony we 
had killed, they would drop the matter. To this condition we 
cheerfully assented and then we were allowed to resume our 
homeward inarch, which we pursued without further incident 
worthy of mention. 

"We were formally disbanded at Columbus. We were 
told that each company commander would receive the pay due 
his company and the members would be paid by him. It was 
supposed that the government would enforce the contract \Ve 
had made with the Pawnees, keep back enough funds to pay 
the expenses of the expedition, and that we would recieve our 
money. But the government recoiled on us, paid the Indians 
all that was coming to them, and we were left to whistle for 
our pay." 

When the war of the rebellion broke out and the call for 
volunteers was made, Omaha was not behind her sister cities 
in offering her best men to fight for the Union. Those were 
exciting days all over the land, and Omaha and Nebraska 
shared the enthusiasm that prevailed everywhere. Hon. John 
M. Thayer, who became a major-general and afterwards 
United States senator, and later governor of Nebraska, ap- 
plied to Governor Saunders and received his commission as 
colonel of the First regiment of Nebraska volunteers, which 
was mainly organized in Omaha and left for the field of action 
in July, 1861, with the following officers: 

John M. Thayer of Omaha, colonel; H. P. Downs of 
Nebraska City, lieutenant-colonel: Wm. McCord of Platts- 
mouth, major; S. A. Strickland of Bellevue, adjutant; Enos 
Lowe of Omaha, surgeon; William McClelland of Omaha, 
assistant surgeon; T. W. Tipton of Brownville, chaplain; 
George Spencer, sutler. 

Captains — Company A, R. R. Livingstone of Platts- 
mouth; Company B, William Baumer of Omaha; Company C. 
J. D. N. Thompson ; Company D, Allen Blacker; Company E, 
Wm. G. Hollins of Omaha; Company E, Thomas M. Bowen; 
Company G, John McConihe; Company H, George T. Ken- 
nedy; Company I, Jacob Butler; Company K, Joseph W. 
Paddock. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 421 

The first battalion of the Second regiment of Nebraska 
volunteers (cavalry) was mustered in at Omaha in early No- 
vember, 1862, for nine months' service. George Armstrong 
of Omaha was commissioned as major and commanded and 
superintended the organization of the regiment until ten com- 
panies were mustered in, when William F. Sap]) was commis- 
sioned lieutenant-colonel. In February, 1863, the twelfth 
company completed the regiment, and it was mustered into 
service and officered as follows: 

k. \V. Furnas of Brownville, colonel; \V. F. Sapp of 
Omaha, lieutenant-colonel; John Taffe of Dakota City, and 
John \V. Pearman of Nebraska City, majors; Dr. Aurelius 
Bowen of Nebraska City, and Dr. W. S. Latta of Plattsmouth, 
surgeons; II. M. Atkinson of Brownville, adjutant. 

This regiment, enlisted for nine months and designed for 
home service, was mustered out in September, 1863, and on 
the recommendation of several of it > officers, and by leave of 
the secretary of war, George Armstrong was commissioned by 
Governor Saunders to raise an independent battalion of cavalry 
to serve during the war, and the following year the First Bat- 
talion of Nebraska veteran cavalry was mustered in. and Cap- 
tain Armstrong of Company A was commissioned as major 
commanding. 

The battalion was afterwards consolidated with the Old 
Nebraska First, which had returned from the south and had 
been transformed into a cavalry regiment, and on the 10th 
day of Jul\', 1865, the new organization, thus consolidated, 
was known as the First Regiment of Nebraska veteran cavalry. 
( toe year afterwards this regiment was mustered out, at which 
time the officers were: l\. R. Livingston, colonel; William 
Baumer, lieutenant -colonel ; George Armstr< >ng and Thomas J. 
Majors, majors; William McClelland, surgeon. 

Curtis' Horse was tin- name of a battalion of cavalry con- 
sisting of four companies, principally recruited in Omaha, and 
afterwards consolidated with the Fifth Iowa cavalry. Th< 
four companies A, B, C, and I) composed the first battalion. 
The final appointment of officers was made February 1st, 
1862, as follows: W. \V. Lowe, colonel ; M T Patrick, lieu- 
tenant colonel; \V. l». M adjutant; Enos Lowe, sur- 



422 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

geon; B. T. Wise, assistant surgeon; Jerome Spillman, 
chaplain. 

Company A was commanded by Captain J. J. Lowe; Com- 
pany B by Captain John T. Croft; Company C by Captain 
Morris Young; Company D by Captain Harlan Beard. All 
these companies were mustered into the United States service 
at Omaha by Lieutenant J. N. H. Patrick. 

Besides the above mentioned troops Captain John R. Por- 
ter organized in Omaha Company A, First Nebraska militia 
cavalry regiment, for home service against "confederate tribes 
of Indians," and Captain E. P. Childs of Omaha, raised an 
artillery detachment of Nebraska militia. In addition to this 
the militia was organized throughout the state. 

In 1864 a widespread and serious Indian scare occurred 
in the territory, and it was not entirely without foundation. 
It was soon after the destruction of Lawrence, Kansas, by 
Quantrell's band, that several persons in Omaha received 
anonymous letters warning them of a similar attack, and some 
little uneasiness was thus caused in the city. It happens that a 
considerable amount of money and valuables had been sent to 
Omaha from the southern part of the territory for safe-keep- 
ing, and the banks at that time held more than the usual amount 
of funds. There was a well-grounded fear that the city would 
be attacked by robbers or guerrillas disguised as Indians. 
When the attention of the citizens was called to this fact it 
became evident that it would indeed be an easy exploit, even 
in 1864, for an armed body of 100 or 150 men to approach 
within a few miles of the city without the least resistance and 
without anyone being aware of their coming. They could 
march up from the southwest through a country where there 
was not a single settler for hundreds of miles. 

Several bands of Sioux and other northern Indians had 
been in the habit of roaming at will through sections of the 
territory, and particularly through that porion now known 
as Saunders couny. 

About that time a large band of Indians appeared on 
the west side of the Elkhorn river, in the vicinity of where 
Waterloo and Valley stations are now located on the Union 
Pacific railroad, and although they did not do any damage 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 423 

or violence to the white people, still the settlers in that neigh- 
borhood felt so uneasy that they fled to Omaha. As soon as 
they had gone the Indians appropriated their cattle and horses, 
and everything else of any value, but committed no violence 
or murder. 

When the settlers came flocking into Omaha one morn- 
ing, between two and three o'clock, in the latter part of August, 
it caused the most intense excitement. Business was 
entirely suspended. A meeting was called at the court house 
and before sunset nearly every able-bodied man in the city was 
fully armed, equipped and prepared for anything that might 
occur. A stmng guard was stationed at all the approaches to 
the city, and this vigilance was continued for about two weeks. 
It is a fact that quite a number of the citizens became so fright- 
ened that they went over to Council Bluffs, where they re- 
mained till the scare subsided. 

The precautions that were taken no doubt prevented an 
attack on the city either from bushwhackers or from Indians. 
Our authority for this statement was one of the oldest settler-. 
Soon after Ouantrell's raid in Kansas he accidentally met in 
( )niaba a man who was a member of that notorious band He 
had known this man for a long time, and during the war of 
the rebellion he was little better than a highwayman. There 
were two otbcr> of Ouantrell's followers in Omaha at the 
same time. They were probably looking over the ground pre- 
paratory to raiding the citv. 

Roving bands of Indians were committing depredations 
and murders in the Platte valley. Men were found killed at 

Thirty-two mile creek, Lone Tree and Plum ("reek, and other 
places in Nebraska, especially along the overland mail and stage 
routes. Stock was driven off along the Fort Kearney and 
Atchison mail route, and the pickets were fired upon at I 
Kearney. A wagon tram bad been destroyed at Plum Creek 
and thirteen men killed. It is claimed to be a fact that in 
many instances the [ndians were commanded by white men 
disguished as savag Tins is easily explained by the fact 
thai the war of the rebellion was then in progress, and these 
white savages were undoubtedl) rebel emissaries, h was not 
strange, in the face of all these circumstances, that a gem 



1-24 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

uprising of the Indians who infested western Nebraska, Wy- 
oming, Colorado and Utah, should have been feared. It was 
thus that the Indian and guerrilla scare of 1864 originated. 

Governor Saunders made a call for the militia for self- 
protection and to put a stop to the Indian outrages, and in 
accordance with that call his adjutant-general, W. H. S. 
Hughes, issued a special order for two regiments of mounted 
infantry, each regiment to be composed of six companies of 
sixty- four men each — one of the regiments to be raised south 
of the Platte and the other north of the Platte. The com- 
manding officers of all North Platte companies were to report 
to Brigadier-General O. P. Hurford of Omaha, and those of 
the south Platte companies to Colonel O. P. Mason of Ne- 
braska City. The term of service was four months. 

Adjutant General Hughes' order number 4, dated August 
22, 1864, by order of the commander-in-chief, Governor Saun- 
ders, commanded that all able-bodied men in the territory be- 
tween the ages of eighteen and forty-five, who did not belong 
to some militia company, meeting regularly for drill, should 
enroll themselves and form companies in accordance with the 
laws of the territory. Under the four months call of the 
governor, seven companies were organized, among them be- 
ing the following in Omaha : 

Company A — R. T. Beall, captain ; George C. Yates, first 
lieutenant; J. H. Barlow, second lieutenant. 

Company B — John Taffe, captain ; Edwin Patrick, first 
lieutenant ; Abraham Deyo, second lieutenant. 

Company C — Charles S. Goodrich, captain; Martin Dun- 
ham, first lieutenant; David T. Mount, second lieutenant. 

Company D — Jesse Lowe, captain ; E. Estabrook, first 
lieutenant; O. B. Selden, second lieutenant. 

A gun squad was also organized and officered by E. P. 
Child, captain, and A. J. Simpson, first lieutenant. 

These companies were more of a home guard than any- 
thing else. Company D was called the "gray-beard company," 
being composed entirely of old men. These companies were 
organized during the latter part of August. The Republican 
of August 26, 1864, says; "Organization is progressing sat- 
isfactorily and we shall soon be in fighting trim. The city is 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 425 

now safe and we can resist any attack which can be made upon 
it by the Indians or guerrillas." 

The Republican of the same date notices the departure 
of Captain Taffe's company, as follows : "Captain Taffe's com- 
pany of cavalry started west Wednesday afternoon, provided 
with five days rations. They go direct to Junction Island, near 
Forest City, and after reconnoitering in that vicinity will pass 
up the Elkhorn and return home." 

On Monday night, August 23d, it was reported that two 
hundred head of cattle belonging to Mr. E. Creighton and Mr. 
E. Loveland, had been driven off by the Indians from an island 
where they were being herded, only twenty miles from Omaha, 
and that a large number of the hostiles were on the south side 
of the 1 Matte river in the vicinity of Forest City. It was on 
the morning of this day that the frightened settlers — about 
twenty families — came into Omaha. 

( 'aptain Taffe's company of fifty mounted men left Omaha 
in the evening, reaching Forest City on Thursday. It was 
there learned that the cattle reported to have been driven off 
by the Sioux had been stampeded by the Omahas on their 
return from their annual hunt, and that most of the cattle had 
been recovered, no hostile Indians having been engaged in the 
affair. 

("aptain Taffe then proceeded with hi^ command up the 
Elkhorn and made a thorough reconnoisance for several miles 
in the direction of Elkhorn City. Nothing was learned of any 
hostile Indians, and becoming satisfied that the alarm was the 
ill of a mistake, for which nobody was really to blame, 
('aptain Taffe returned September 1st. This expedition demon- 
strated the fact that no hostile Indians had made their appear 

ance on the north side of the (Matte. This quieted all appre- 
hension of an attack on ( >maha. and nearly all the settler- re- 
turned home. The fear of a raid by guerrillas was still enter- 
tained, however, and strict vigilance was maintained for some 
time. The home guards were drilled every afternoon, and all 
stores, shops, workshops and pi. i business generally were 

closed during those hours. ( laptains Taffe, ( loodrich and Beall 
were ordered to attend to the enrollment of all persons subject 
to military dutv. 



426 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Captain Beall was directed to take command of all the 
militia forces within the city and to keep the guard at night. 
All this was done by command of Brigadier-General O. P. 
Hurford, commanding First Nebraska militia. 

About this time General Curtis, who was conducting the 
Indian campaign, made a call on Governor Saunders for 
mounted men, and in accordance with this request a company 
of volunteer cavalry was raised in Omaha, principally through 
the efforts of John R. Porter. He had been drilling his com- 
pany of home guards every Saturday, and being considered a 
thorough military tactician he was elected captain of the cav- 
alry company. A. T. Riley was elected first lieutenant, and 
Martin Dunham was chosen second lieutenant. The company 
left Omaha fifty-two strong, sometime in September, and 
scoured the country north and south as far west as Kearney 
and Julesburg, and other points along the stage line, over 
which travel had been temporarily suspended. 

The Omaha cavalrymen had several little skirmishes and 
one real fight, which took place at Plum Creek, where the 
Indians had burned a train of fourteen wagons a short time 
previously, and killed the emigrants, who were buried by some 
of the whites. Captain Porter's company had run a party of 
Pawnees to this point, occasionally picking them off one at a 
time. They finally cornered them and killed fourteen of them. 
They also took three captives, who were brought to Omaha 
and delivered to General Mitchell. No one recollects what be- 
came of them, but it is very likely that they were soon released. 

At another time they corralled old Two-Face and his 
band near Alkali, and in crossing the Platte river to reach them 
they came very nearly losing several of their horses. Just as 
they were about to charge them, a ^vhite man stepped out from 
among the Indians and raised a flag of truce. He presented 
a passport of protection and freedom, a sort of letter of credit, 
from General Mitchell, saying that they should be allowed 
to proceed unmolested by anyone to Cottonwood, down the 
river. Captain Porter respected the letter, and allowed them 
to depart, notwithstanding the opposition of his troopers, who 
wanted to annihilate them. The Indians did not go to Cotton- 
wood, but switched off at Ash Hollow and went up to the 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 427 

vicinity of Fort Laramie, where Colonel William Baumer was 
commanding. Colonel Baumer took Two-Face prisoner, and 
hanged him in chains. Two-Face was a renegade and a thief 
as well as a hostile, and no doubt deserved his fate. He had 
several white children whom he had captured. 

Captain Porter's company also did valuable service in es- 
corting supply trains and stage coaches between Juesburg and 
Fort Kearney. The cavalry men returned home in November. 
The First Nebraska and the Seventh Iowa were then returning 
from the south, and these two regiments relieved all the volun- 
teers along the stage road and on the frontier. 

Captain E. P. Childs also raised an artillery company of 
volunteers and went to Fort Kearney, w T here he did some active 
duty with his command. 

Omaha was for many years quite an important military 
point. It was the official headquarters and supply depot of 
the department of the Platte. Fort Omaha, formerly called 
Sherman barracks, was built about the year 1868, and since 
that time it has been considerably improved. 

To the late United States Senator Paddock is due the 
credit for the establishment of the military district of Ne- 
braska, which naturally resulted in the department of the 
Platte, with headquarters for many years at ( )maha. The first 
order for the organization of the district was procured by Mr. 
Paddock. This was done in connection with the organization 
of the Second Nebraska cavalry, for which he secured the 
order as acting-governor from Secretary Stanton to General 

Pope, who was then in command of the department of the 

Northwest with headquarters at St. Paul. General Pope sent 
to Nebraska his chief of staff, General Elliott, who accept 

the entire plan as recommended by Paddock. The Second 

regiment was for home protection against hostile Indians, and 
General Elliott issued the order for raising the regiment and 
making Omaha the headquarters, lie also established a num- 
bei of frontier posts, and as companies were being mustered 
in they were distributed among these posts, all reporting at 
Omaha. When this plan was perfected Omaha was made 
permanent headquarters, with General James Craig tern] 
arily in command ol the district of Nebraska. All this v 



428 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



the result of the efforts of Mr. Paddock, who also secured the 
only direct and independent appropriation for military head- 
quarters buildings, as an amendment in the senate to appropri- 
ation bills. The amounts thus appropriated were $60,000 for 
Fort Omaha, and $30,000 for quartermaster and commissary 
depot. 

Through congressional action, promoted by Senator Man- 
derson in 1888, Fort Crook was established and became an 
important post. Fort Omaha, which had become too limited 
to accommodate the number of troops assigned to the station 
at this city, continued to be used for military purposes by the 
signal service and during the world war was utilized for a 
balloon school. In early days Fort Omaha was outside the 
town limits, but today it is far within the boundaries of the 
city. 




CHAPTER XXXVIII 



THE OMAHA PRESS 



FIRST TAPER PRINTED IN OMAHA WAS THE X El'.K ASKI AN 

FIRST DAILY WAS THE TELEGRAPH IN 186*0 — VARIED CAREER 
OF THE REPUBLICAN DR. MILLER AND THE HERALD — ED- 
WARD ROSEWATER AND THE BEE RAWHIDE DUEL BETWEEN 

ROSEWATER AND BALCOMBE — GILBERT HITCHCOCK AND THE 
WOK LD-H EH A 1 A) T HE DA] I A' X EWS. — < )T HER PUBLICATION S. 

The story of The Omaha Arrow and its editors and pub- 
lishers is told in a previous chapter. This pioneer publication 
was printed in Council Bluffs with an Omaha date line. The 
first newspaper that was set up and printed in Omaha with its 
own type and press was The Nebraskian, a democratic sheet, 
which appeared in the fall of 1854, the outfit having been 
brought here from Klyria. Ohio, by Bird B. Chapman, who 
came to Nebraska with the determination of running for dele- 
gate to congress. ( 'hapman was elected, and in 1858 his paper 
passed into the hands of Theodore Robertson, and two years 
Liter M. II. (lark was the owner, with Milton \V. Reynolds 
as editor. An attempt to publish a daily soon proved UnSUC- 

ml. In 1863 Alfred M. Jackson took hold of The Ne- 
braskian and in the Summer of 1865 the paper ended its career. 
giving place to The I braid. 

In 1X57 William W. Wyman established The Weekly 

Times, a democratic journal, and erected a tWO-Stor) brick 

building at the northwest corner of Douglas and Thirteenth 
streets for its office and for a post office, he having sometime 
previously been appointed postmaster. In 1859 he disposed 
oi in. newspaper plant to The Nebraskian. The Wyman 



430 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

building was for several years occupied by The Herald, and 
later by The Republican. 

The Omaha Democrat, started in 1858 by Hadley D. 
Johnson, suspended after two months publication. 

The coming of the telegraph, October 5, 1860, connecting 
Omaha with the east, led H. Z. Curtis, son of General S. R. 
Curtis and brother of Colonel S. S. Curtis, to attempt the pub- 
lication of a four-column, four-page daily newspaper. He 
launched the enterprise December 5th, the name being The 
Daily Telegraph. It lived about a year. 



The Omaha Republican made its debut May 5, 1858, 
under the auspices of Ed. F. Schneider and Harrison J. Brown, 
who soon passed it along to Dr. G. C. Monell, under whose 
control it continued until 1859, when factional fights among 
parties interested in its publication compelled a change in its 
management. Upon the recommendation of Thurlow Weed 
of New York, who had been appealed to by leading republicans 
to send them a high-class editor, E. D. Webster came to Omaha 
and purchased the paper, and at once made it a political power. 
Webster was a vigorous writer and a shrewd and active poli- 
tician. In 1861 he sold The Republican to Colonel E. B. Tay- 
lor and E. A. McClure, and went to Washington, having been 
summoned there by Secretary Seward to become his private 
secretary. Colonel Taylor was an able editor, and under his 
charge The Republican continued to be an influential journal. 
It was issued as a tri- weekly and published the latest telegraphic 
news. On January 7, 1864, it was made a daily evening paper. 
In 1865 Taylor & McClure were succeeded by the firm of 
Heath, Taylor & McClure, the editorial work being done by 
Heath. The next year Taylor & McClure resumed control, 
and a few months later a half interest in the paper was pur- 
chased by St. A. D. Balcombe, who soon became sole owner 
and editor. 

Balcombe came to Omaha from Minnesota, where he had 
been quite prominent in politics, having served in the terri- 
torial and state legislatures, and in other public positions, and 
for several years was the agent of the Winnebago Indiana He 
died in 1904. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



431 




SI. A. I). II;il<oml»e 



E. B. Taylor was again 
called to the editorial chair of 
The Republican and filled that 
position from May, 1869, until 
June, 1870, when he was suc- 
ceeded by Waldo M. Potter of 
Syracuse, New York, who pur- 
chased a half interest in the 
paper. In June of the follow- 
ing year The Republican was 
consolidated with The Tribune, 
which had been started in Jan- 
uary, 1870, by J. B. Half and 
associates. Mr. Potter now re- 
tired and C. B. Thomas, the 
editor of The Tribune, became 
editor of the "Mammoth Con- 
solidated," as it was called by its 
rivals. Thomas, who was a native of Massachusetts, had been 
a Unitarian minister, but had abandoned the pulpit and taken 
Up newspaper work. I Ie was a scholarly man and was a fluent 
and forceful writer. 

In January, 1873, the name of The Tribune was dropped 
and Mr. Thomas stepped down to give place t<» John Taffe, 
who had represented Nebraska in congress in 1866, 1868, and 
1870. Mr. Taffe's editorship was brief. 

He was followed by Rev. George W. Frost, Chauncey 
Wiltse, Ben Barrows, and others in rapid succession. The 
Republican passed into the hands of Casper E. Yost as busi- 
ness manager, and Datus C, Brooks as editor, and in 1881 Mr. 
Yost and Fred Nye became the owners, the latter taking the 
editorship. Two years later the paper was sold to S. I \ Rounds 
and Cadet Taylor for $105,000. Rounds, who had been the 
public printer in Washington for four years, installed his s.»n- 
in-law, ( >. II. Rothacker, as editor, and Taylor was made 
treasurer 

Mr. Rounds died in 1887, and early in 1888 Frank B, 
fohnson and Fred Nye acquired possession of the property, 
and Nye and Rothacker took editorial ch During the 



432 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

time that The Republican was owned by Johnson and Nye it 
was a brilliant publication. Typographically it was a gem, and 
editorially it scintillated with wit, sarcasm, philosophy, politics, 
science and art. It was ten years ahead of the town. Its cir- 
culation and advertising patronage grew rapidly, but not so 
rapidly as the expenses. At the end of nine months the losses 
footed up over $75,000. This caused a halt, and the paper 
was turned over to Major J. C. Wilcox, under whose manage- 
ment it soon peacefully passed away and was laid to rest in 
the journalistic graveyard. 

The staff of The Republican under the ownership of 
Johnson and Nye w-as well selected. A better crew would be 
hard to find, Rothacker, Nye, Howard, Walt Mason and Alfred 
Sorenson, managing editor, composed the editorial quintet 
that furnished a variety of "stuff" that satisfied the most ex- 
acting and epicurean mental appetite. The local news staff 
included some of the most alert reporters in the west. Roth- 
acker died in 1890 in his rooms at the Barker hotel. During 
the last year of his life he was in very poor health, but was 
constantly surrounded by his friends and admirers. His son, 
Watterson Rothacker, who was born in the Millard hotel, is 
a resident of Chicago and has won a fortune in the manu- 
facture of commercial films and of moving picture films. 

It was a well known habit of Rothacker to never keep an 
appointment. Among the mourners at his funeral were Rich- 
ard L. Metcalfe and Fred Nye, who sat side by side. When 
the coffin was being carried into the church Nye said: "Met- 
calfe, this is the only appointment that Rothacker was ever 
known to keep." 

Rothacker was editor of The Denver Tribune from 1878 
to 1884, his associate on that paper being Eugene Field. For 
a short time, prior to his advent in Omaha, he edited and pub- 
lished The Hatchet, a weekly paper in Washington. His 
father, William Rothacker, was associated with Carl Schurz 
and others in the revolution of 1848 against the Prussian 
government. He was arrested in Paris with several compan- 
ions and through the influence of the Prussian government 
he and his associates were tried by court martial and sentenced 
to death. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 433 

That night a revolution broke out in Paris and the prison 
doors were opened. Among those who escaped was William 
Rothacker, who, upon coming to the United States, located 
in Kentucky. He was a highly educated man and an accom- 
plished writer of both prose and poetry. 

Fred Nye went to New York and entered the service of 
The World. He was accidentally killed by falling off a street 
car. In May, 1878, Nye, who had for some years been the 
editor of The Fremont Tribune, came to Omaha, and estab- 
lished The Omaha Evening News, which he conducted until 
June, 1880, when he discontinued the paper and went over to 
The Republican as associate editor, having purchased an in- 
terest in the property, which he retained until the sale to S. P. 
Rounds in 1886, as previously stated. Nye was a versatile 
writer, possessing a vein of quaint humor. At one time he 
was ambitious to become an operatic composer. He wrote an 
operetta which was produced by local talent. But that is as 
far as he got in the operatic line. 

Major Howard, the heavy editorial writer of The Re- 
publican, and Fidus Achates of Rothacker, met with an acci- 
dental death in Chicago. Me failed to watch his steps on his 
boarding house stairway and fell headlong to the bottom. Walt 
Mason fniall}' braced up and located in Emporia, Kansas, and 
has written himself into fame and fortune. Frank Johnson, 
who salvaged the job printing plant of The Republican, or- 
ganized the Omaha Printing company, which has grown into 
a large and profitable institution. 



The Herald was established in 1865 by Dr. George L, 
Miller, Omaha's first physician. He was a graduate of the 
College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York city, and 
after practicing in Syracuse for two years came to Omaha in 

October, 1854, and at once became one of the prominent fac- 
tors in the upbuilding of the infant community, lie took a 

hand in politics and was elected to the territorial council the 
year after his arrival. Me served three terms in that body, 
and during the- last term was the presiding officer, In 1> 

in the hope of bettering his fortune, he moved t<» St. Joseph, 

Missouri, and while waiting t<> build up a medical practice in 



434 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



that town he contributed sev- 
eral articles to The St. Joseph 
Gazette which attracted much 
attention and elicited very fav- 
orable comment. This caused 
Dr. Miller to decide to take up 
journalism as his life profes- 
sion, but securing a sutlership 
at Fort Kearney in 1861 he 
moved to that post and re- 
mained there until 1864. Re- 
turning to Omaha in that year 
he became a candidate for dele- 
gate to congress, but was de- 
feated by P. W. Hitchcock. 




Dr. George L. Miller 



The following year Dr. Mil- 
ler launched The Herald, his as- 
sociate in the enterprise being 
Dan YY. Carpenter, a practical 
printer. In August, 1868, the pa- 
per was purchased by Lyman 
Richardson and John S. Briggs. 
The former took the business 
management and the latter super- 
intended the printing of the paper. 
Dr. Miller, however, remained as 
editor, and at the end of six 
months bought the interest of Mr. 
Briggs, the firm then becoming 
Miller & Richardson. In March, 
1887, The Herald was sold to 
John A. McShane, who had been 
elected to congress from the 
Lyman itiei.ar.ison Omaha district on the democratic 

ticket. During the McShane ownership the paper was edited 
by Edwin L. Merritt — an importation from Springfield, Illi- 
nois. In the fall of 1887 McShane parted with the control 
of The Herald, passing it along to R. A. Craig, who came 
here from Chicago and engaged a lively staff from St. Paul. 




THE STORY OF OMAHA 435 

He made Frank R. Morrissey the editor, and for some little 
time The Herald, under his editorship, cut quite a wide swath 
in Omaha journalism. But one morning, early in 1889. it 
was announced that Gilbert M. Hitchcock had bought The 
Herald and had consolidated it with his Evening World under 
the hyphenated name of World-Herald. 

Dr. Miller, who was a most enthusiastic booster for Oma- 
ha at all times, was a vigorous writer and made The Herald a 
paper that wielded a powerful influence far beyond its local 
environments. Upon his retirement from journalism he de- 
voted his time to private business interests, and built a beautiful 
home in the southwest outskirts of the city on a large tract 
of land which he owned, and named it Seymour park in honor 
of Horatio Seymour, the Xew York statesman. This home 
was destroyed by fire, and a few years ago Dr. Miller planned 
to throw the land upon the market in small tracts and build 
up an attractive suburb. He had visions of great riches as the 
result of this scheme, and it was about this time that his mind 
began to fail. For several years he was a mental invalid, but 
physically in good health. Seymour park passed into the hands 
of a country club, now called the Lakoma, and the grounds 
have been made attractive in every way. The artificial lake, 
which was created in accordance with Dr. Miller's idea by 
building an embankment to hold the water from an ever-flow- 
ing spring, now supplies the ice for the Cudahy Packing 
company. 

Dr. Miller always had the greatest confidence in Omaha's 
future. In the early '70s, when Omaha had a population of 
about 16,000, he predicted in a public meeting that at no dis- 
tanl day the city would have .SO.OOO people, and that it was 

high time t<> begin paving the principal streets. Me advocated 
the paving of Farnam from Fifteenth t<> Ninth and thence t<> 
the Union Pacific depot with cinders. It was in 1874 that the 

first attempt at paving was made, but not with cinders. Far 

nam street was paved in that year with macadam from Ninth 

t<> Fifteenth. This pavement w. >n ground into dust and 

ime .i nuisance to the business houses on the thoroughfare 

In 1883 street paving was really begun in a substantial manner. 

It was while I )r. Miller was president of the park o>m- 



436 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



mission that the present system of parks and boulevards 
was Inaugurated, and in honor of his efforts in this great public 
improvement his name was given to Miller park. Dr. Miller 
died in 1920 at the age of S ( ^ years. 

The late Colonel Savage in Savage and Bell's History of 
Omaha paid this tribute to Dr. Miller: "He was always a man 
of striking personality. He possessed a strong and rugged 
character, with great energy and capacity for work. He was 
fearless in the expression of his views, yet always courteous 
and considerate to an opponent. He was always devoted to 
Omaha and its interests. By voice and pen he inspired his 
fellow citizens to deeds and ventures for the upbuilding of 
the citv." 



HM^Hl 



Edward Rose water 



The first number of 
The Omaha Bee was is- 
sued on Monday, June 
19, 1871, and was dis- 
tributed gratuitously. 
Its object was to influ- 
ence the public in favor 
of the ratification of 
the legislative bill creat- 
ing the board of educa- 
tion, the bill having a 
condition requiring its 
submission to the vote of 
the people. This measure 
had been originated by 
Edward Rosewater, a 
member of the legisla- 
ture, and he had secured 
its passage. Its ratifi- 
cation was vigorously 
opposed by the press, and Rosewater in order to get a hearing 
before the people launched The Bee, having no idea of its 
becoming a permanent publication, lie had had a brief edi- 
torial experience by writing for The Tribune until the arrival 
from the east of C. B. Thomas, who had been engaged as edi- 




THE STORY OF OMAHA 437 

tor. Mr. Rosewater was a director in The Tribune company, 
but resigned in 1870 owing to differences regarding the man- 
agement of the paper. 

The board of education bill was sustained by the people 
by an overwhelming majority in the 1871 election. It was a 
big victory for Rosewater, who then determined to continue 
the publication of The Bee. It gradually grew in size and 
popularity. The independent and fearless policy of Mr. Rose- 
water forced the paper to the front and in time it became, 
under his guidance. one of the most influential journals in 
the west. The l>ee was at first an evening paper, and in 1873 
a morning edition was added. It was printed at 6:30 and con- 
tained the telegraphic news in condensed form, the dispatches 
being cribbed from The Herald and The Republican, which 
were published two hours earlier. This cribbing continued 
for several years, and finally William Henry Smith, general 
manager of the Associated Press, induced The Herald and 
The Republican to let The Bee become a member of the a 
ciation upon the payment of $10,000, one-half being paid to 
Dr. Miller and the other hall" to Casper E. Yost. That's how 
Rosewater broke into the Associated Pre 

Edward Rosewater, whose career was at times somewhat 
stormy, but nevertheless successful in the journalistic field, 
died in 1906. He was twice an unsuccessful candidate for 
United States senator, in 1 ( >01 and 1905. 

Mr. Rosewater was a native of Bohemia. When he was 
thirteen years of age the family came to the United States and 

located iu Cleveland, Ohio. After a brief term at a commer- 
cial college he took up telegraphing. When the civil war broke 

out Mr. Rosewater was in tin- South where he was engaged 
in the telegraphic service. He returned to the North as soon 
as possible and enlisted in the United States telegraph corps 
in 1862, and accompanied General Fremont through his \\ 
Virginia campaign. Later he was attached to General Pope's 
staff, and was with thai commander during the campaign 

against Richmond and remained with him until after the 

■nd battle of Bull Run. Mr Rosewater was then assigned 
t<» duty as a telegraph operator iu the office of the war de- 
partment in Washington, remaining there until the summer ol 



438 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

1863, when he came to Omaha, which at that time was the 
terminus of the Pacific telegraph. For seven years lie was local 
manager of the Western Union, Atlantic & Pacific and Great 
Western lines, and during the same period he was the Associ- 
ated Press agent and telegraphic correspondent of several 
leading eastern daily newspapers. In the fall of 1870 Mr. 
Rose water was elected a memher of the lower house of the 
legislature, in which body he made an excellent record and 
wielded a powerful influence. During his entire career in 
Omaha he was prominent in city, state and national affairs. 
Through The Bee, and in every other possible way, he fought 
monopoly and corruption in every quarter with such an honesty 
and vigor that his paper was eagerly sought for by the toiling 
masses of the people. He was one of the most public spirited 
citizens of Omaha. He always advocated extensive public 
improvements and assisted every worthy enterprise for the 
public good. The Bee building — now called the Peters Trust 
building — erected in 1888, is an evidence of his progressive 
spirit. 

He was largely instrumental in securing the present court 
house square by inducing William A. Paxton to buy the old 
courthouse site, northeast corner of Sixteenth and Farnam 
streets, where now stands the Paxton block, and the money 
realized from this transaction was put into the fund to buy 
the new r location for the county building. His influence also 
was a main factor in locating the city hall opposite the court- 
house. 

In July, 1873, The Republican, of which St. A. D. Bal- 
combe was then the editorial manager, published a most 
scurrilous article regarding Rosewater, who. responded with a 
note demanding a public apology, and declaring that if it was 
not forthcoming at once he would "seek reparation and re- 
dress as in his judgment he might deem proper under the cir- 
cumstances." "Balky" — as Balcombe was sometimes called — 
replied as follows: "If E. Rosewater will apply to the proper 
person he will get his fill of satisfaction for the article that 
appeared in these columns yesterday." 

Arming himself with a cowhide whip, Rosewater sallied 
forth to meet the enemy and properly castigate him. They 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



439 



met at Fourteenth and Douglas streets and Rosewater at once 
began vigorously applying the whip. Balcombe, who was a 
very tall man, soon wound himself around the diminutive 
Rosewater, and with a scissors hold landed him on the side- 
walk, and sat down on him. When the combatants were 
pulled apart Jesse Lacey ran out from his grocery store and 
emptied a bottle of red ink on the battlefield. This deluge 

] f" : 'i 



OFFICE 0r <vtWBUCAMi^ 





ThC M«>M«-\\nt«r-llnl«oiiihr slrcil h^lu 

"i near-blood marked the scene of the conflict until en 
by the footprints of the p by. The accounts of this battle, 

given by the two papers, differed in several important par- 
ticulars. The Bee 1 tor} was dictated l>\ Rosewater and was 

atlj to his credit The Republican editor claimed a vicl 
The Day' Doing ,a \n\ York sensational paper, illustrated 



440 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

the set-to with one of those rude wood cuts that prevailed at 

that time. That historic illustration is reproduced as an ac- 
companiment of this chapter. It is an amusing reminder of 
the editorial fighting- days in Omaha. 

In the course of his journalistic career Edward Rose- 
water was the victim of several assaults. Captain Kelley of 
the police in 1873 attempted to whip him, but was prevented 
by an innocent bystander from proceeding further than a 
single blow. In the same year James Creighton, a member 
of the board of education, took exception to The Bee's criti- 
cism of the board's action in regard to the introduction of 
teaching the German language in the public schools, and at- 
tempted to administer physical punishment upon Rosewater, 
who drew a revolver and called a halt. That ended that row, 
although Creighton offered to meet him at any time and place 
and settle the matter in a duel with shotguns. The challenge 
was not accepted. 

The Bee, one day in 1876, contained a local item referring 
to Dick Curry's gambling house for colored men as a den. 
Some of Rosew r ater's political enemies convinced Curry that 
this was a serious reflection on his character and a libel on 
his "place of business," and he was induced to print a card 
in The Republican expressing his indignation and demanding 
an explanation of the meaning of the word "den." In the 
next issue of The Bee Rosewater reproduced Webster's defini- 
tion: "A squalid place of resort; a wretched dwelling place; 
a haunt; as a den of vice." 

The following day Curry, accompanied by Smith Coffev, 
a colored blacksmith, halted Rosewater on Douglas street, and 
without warning struck him on the head with a billy, felling 
him to the ground, and would have inflicted further injury 
had it not been for the interference of Al Patrick, who rushed 
to the rescue of the prostrate victim of the negro's wrath. 
Rosewater was severely injured, and was confined to his resi- 
dence for three months. Curry was sent to the penitentiary 
under a four-year sentence. No action was instituted against 
Coffey as he had taken no active part in the assault. 

Without any just provocation O. H. Rothacker attacked 
Rosewater with a billy, hitting him a slight blow on the head. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



441 



Rothacker had taken offense at an editorial sting of The Bee. 
Upon second sober thought he probably would have passed the 
matter up. Rothacker had given Rose water many a vicious 
stab through the columns of The Republican, but he did not 
relish a counter attack, such as Rosewater could make when 
driven to it. 

Edward Rosewater was not a fluent writer. Composition 
was not an easy accomplishment with him. I lis greatest diffi- 
culty was in beginning an article to exactly suit him. At times 
he would make more than fifty starts, throwing the sheets of 
paper on the floor, each containing a sentence or two. But 
when the article was finished, after a great deal of hard study, 
it was in vigorous language and without a superfluous word. 
It was the delight of Rosewater to use the blue pencil and 
mutilate the manuscript of William E. Annin, his associate 
editor, who was a smooth and clever writer. One day Annin 
inserted in one of his articles several sentences from one of 

Macaula) 's essays, with- 
out quotation marks, and 
turned it in for Rose- 
water's 0. K. It is a fact 
that Rosewater blue- 
penciled the Macaulay 
sentences, although they 
nicely fitted into An- 
iiiii's editorial. 

Victor Rosewater. 
who had received a col- 
lege education and who 
had considerable exper- 
ience in newspaper 
work, succeeded his 
father as editor of The 
Bee, and soon gained 
complete control of the 
pr< >perty. The Bee build- 
in-, eret ted in 1£ 

parsed int( i the hand- - >l 

the Peters Trust com- 




\ Irlnr It <»s«- 1% ii i < i 



442 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



pany in 1919, and in the spring of 1920 Nelson B. Updike 
purchased The Bee newspaper. Victor Rosewater now makes 
his home in Philadelphia where he is engaged in the important 
capacity of director of publicity for the sesquicentennial cele- 
bration in 1926. 

The general manager of The Bee is Mr. B. Brewer, who 
is a part owner of the paper, with which he became connected 
in December, 1921. He came well equipped for the perfor- 
mance of the multifarious duties incidental to the publication 
of a metropolitan daily newspaper. His first newspaper ex- 





n. Brewer, 

general manager of The Bee 



Colonel T. W. MeCnllongli. 
Bee editorial writer 



perience was with The Daily Oklahoma of Oklahoma City, 
and from 1916 to 1919 he was manager of The Cincinnati 
Post. During the two following years he managed The Cleve- 
land Press. His next move was to Omaha. During the brief 
period that Mr. Brewer has handled the affairs of The Bee 
he has brought the paper to the front, and today it has gained 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



443 



its lost ground and is being successfully pushed along pro- 
gressive lines. It has grown in circulation and influence, and 
its advertising patronage has largely increased. It now meets 
the demands of Nebraska republicans for an enterprising 
newspaper. Mr. Brewer, who is a man of family, has entered 
heartily into the activities of Omaha, and has won a large 
circle of friends in this community both in business and social 
circles. He is a native of North Missouri and is a graduate 
of the Xorth Missouri State Normal school, of which genera] 
Pershing is an alumnus. 

Colonel T. W. McCullough, who has been engaged in news- 
paper work since early manhood, is chief editorial writer, 
on the staff of The Bee, having been connected with the paper 

for over twenty year-. 

The Evening World, founded in 
August, 18X5, by Gilbert M. Hitchcock, 
Frank J. Burkley, Alfred Millard, W. F. 
Gurley and \V. V. Rooker, rapidly grew 
in popular favor, and in 
1889 was consolidated 
with The 1 [erald, the lat- 
ter paper having been 
^^t?^ j£k purchased by Mr. Ilitch- 

W &JM cock. The consolidated 

— |fli— paper was named The 
Haivej i:. Newfcraaafc \V< »rld- 1 lerald, and the 
publication of a morning and evening edi- 
tion was then begun. During the period 
of depression from 1890 to 1 s ( >5 The 
World-Herald had a hard struggle for ex- 

nee but today it is a profitable enterprise and one of the 
most influential journals in tiu- west. It has its home in its own 
handsome building and is equipped with the m<>st modern ma- 
chinery. Tlie paper has a large and well balanced staff, some 

of the members of w hieh are brilliant writers in their respective 

lines Harvey E, Nfewbranch, editor in chief, has become a 
writer of national reputation. \V. I\. Watson, managing edi- 
tor for mair. . is an excellent executive and of keen dis- 

crimination and acknowledged literar) ability. \\ «. * rounse 





It. \\ IllMIII 



444 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



is vice president and manager of the mechanical department. 
Henry Doorly, who has been connected with The World- 
Herald for twenty years, is business manager and secretary- 
treasurer. 

Gilbert M. Hitchcock, the principal owner of The World- 
1 [erald, is the son of the late United States Senator Phineas \V. 
Hitchcock. He was born in Omaha September 18, 1856, and 

was educated in the Omaha 
public schools, supplemented 
by two years of study in 
Germany and a law course 
at Michigan university from 
which he graduated in 1881. 
Mr. Hitchcock in 1902 took 
a hand in the game of poli- 
tics and was elected on the 
democratic ticket as a mem- 
ber of the national house of 
representatives of the fifty- 
eighth congress. He was de- 
feated for re-election, but 
was returned to congress in 
1906 and again in 1908. He 
was elected United States 
senator in 1911 and in 1917, 
and was defeated when he 
Senator Hitchcock was the ad- 
ministration leader during the second term of President Wil- 
son and took a very prominent part in national affairs. He 
was regarded as one of the ablest men in the senate. He 
has had a remarkably successful and brilliant political career. 




G. M. Hitchcock 



ran for a third term in 1922. 



The News is the latest entry in the daily newspaper field 
of Omaha. It was established in the spring of 1900 and has 
had a steady growth ever since. It is conducted along inde- 
pendent lines, a policy that is appreciated by a large clientele. 
The paper is housed in a home of its own, the building having 
been specially constructed for its occupancy. The equipment 
is up to date in every respect. The president of the company 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 445 

and editor of the paper is Joseph Polcar, an Omaha newspaper 
man of many years experience, and the managing editor is 
Neal Jones, who has under his supervision a large and well 
selected staff of writers and news gatherers. 



Among the daily papers that flourished for a brief per- 
iod in Omaha was The Evening Telegram, published by Sam 
Donnelly and H. S. Smith, under the firm name of Donnelly & 
Smith. Donnelly and Sands F. Woodbridge came here from 
Binghamton, New York, to join the reportorial staff of The 
f Ferald. Upon the discontinuance of The Evening Telegram 
Donnelly, who was a star reporter, went to Xew York city 
and entered the service of The Sun. He was killed by a ladder 
falling on him while he was a reportorial spectator at a fire. 
Smith some time later located in San Francisco and became 
the advertising man for a medical specialist. Mr. Woodbridge 
is still a resident of Omaha. 

Another paper of the long ago was The Omaha Democrat, 
published by Walter Raleigh Yaughan in 1888. Yaughan 
came over from Council Bluffs, where he had been mayor 
several terms, lie was a "joiner" and belonged to a long 
string of fraternal societies, the names of which appeared on 
his business card together with his most prominent trade mark : 
"Ex-Mayor of Council Bluffs, Iowa." He distinguished him- 
self from the common herd by wearing a stove-pipe hat and 
carrying a gold-headed cane. Vaughafl was a regular patron 
of a faro bank, and frequently deposited his entire pay roll 
there nn Saturday afternoons and failed t<> draw it out. greatly 

to the disgust of his employe* The Democrat could not 

stand the strain and SOOT) collapsed. Vaughan was a great 

schemer and promoter, and invariably found some wa\ oi 

raising money when most needed 

The Excelsior, a society paper, published by (lenient 

(base for many years, ended its life in 1922. Mr. Chase died 
in the same year a fter a l< >ng illne 

\ paper that had a brief existence was The Daily [nde 
pendent, edited and published by T\ II Tibbies, vvho was for 
several years :i member of The World-Herald staff Mr re 

tired in 1922. Mr Tibbies was onCC a candidate for Nice 



446 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



president of the United States on the peoples' party ticket. 

There were several other publications that were short- 
lived. The Nebraska Daily Statesman lived three days in 
July, 1864. The Daily Evening Times, an independent sheet, 
was started in 1868 by P. F. Sullivan, William E. Cook, John 
Howard and Charles Collins, who soon tired of the enterprise, 
and shipped the plant to Sioux City. The Daily Dispatch, 
published in 1873 by J. C. Wilcox, lived about three months. 
The Daily Union was the outgrowth of a printers' strike in 
1874. It worried along for a brief period and then passed 
out. In 1884 Sweesy & Livesy published The Daily Dispatch 
for a few months, and in 1888 another Daily Dispatch was 
launched by J. C. Wilcox, who in 1889 bought The Republican, 
which was in a decaying condition, and soon expired, after a 

long and checkered career. 

The history of the Ger- 
man press of Omaha dates 
back as far as 1887. In that 
year Edward Rosewater and 
Judge Gustave B e n e k e 
founded Beobachter am Mis- 
souri (Observer on the Mis- 
souri), a weekly publication, 
which had an existence of 
about eight years. The 
Omaha Post then made its 
appearance. At first it was 
daily, but soon became a 
semi-weekly. Its publisher 
was Charles Banckes. 

The German population 
was rapidly increasing, and 
many of the newcomers 
were unable to read English. 
This created a demand for 
vai j. Peter a daily German paper and 

in response F. C. Festner, 
owner of a flourishing book bindery, launched The Neb r aska 
Tribune, an independent paper with democratic inclination. It 




THE STORY OF OMAHA 447 

had a somewhat checkered career after Mr. Festner's death, 
and finally was changed into a weekly. The paper eventually 
passed into the hands of Val J. Peter, who revived it as a daily 

The Omaha Daily Tribune is now the only German lan- 
guage daily paper west of Chicago. It has absorbed practically 
all the German weeklies of Nebraska and western Iowa. It is 
therefore recognized as one of the most widely circulated and 
most influential German language papers of the United States. 
It is classed as one of the principal successes in its particular 
field, the result of hard work and perseverance on the part of 
it- publisher, Mr. Peter. 

In April, 1909, Mr. Peter came to Omaha from Rock 
Island, Illinois, where he published for eight years the semi- 
weekly Volkszeitung. Previous to locating in Omaha he bought 
all the German weekly papers in existence here at that time, 
namely: Westliche Presse, Omaha Tribune, Nebraska Tri- 
bune, and Post-Tribune. These he consolidated and published 
under the name of Westliche Presse and Omaha Daily Tri- 
bune, later dropping the name of \\ estliche Presse. Mr. Peter 
also owns the following weeklies : Freie Presse, Council Bluffs. 
Iowa; Welt-Post, Lincoln, Nebraska; and Kansas City Pre 
Kansas ( itv, M issouri. 

During the world war a great many German papers 
ceased publication owing to existing conditions. The Tribune. 
however, survived the storm of prejudice. It took courage to 
publish a paper in the German language in thai troublous 
period. Mr. Peter steered bis paper clear of the shoals by 
maintaining a course loyal to bi> adopted country. It is a fact, 
not generally known, thai his paper contributed mosl valuable 
service during the war drives. Realizing the importance of 
influencing the foreign elements the United States treasury 
department created a foreign language division which asked 
all foreign language papers t" submil editorials in support of 
tlu- Liberty loan. \n Omaha Daily Tribune article received 
tlu- distinction of being the first editorial accepted by the 
treasur) department for propaganda purposes in favor of the 
Liberty loan, and it was cast into plates and senl t<> all Ger- 
man papers for publication. \ translation was also made and 
the English version was transmitted to the non German f< treign 



448 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

papers. Later another Tribune editorial was used by the gov- 
ernment, which conferred other distinctions upon the paper 
from time to time during the critical period of the war. 

The Tribune takes its telegraphic news from the United 
Press, and has a well equipped newspaper plant, together with 
a subsidiary commercial, book and job printing branch under 
the name of Interstate Printing company. 

Mr. Peter is a native of Germany, and came to the United 
States while a boy with his parents in 1889. He chose journal- 
ism as his vocation and has made a success in that field. His 
managing editor, Otto Kinder, is a newspaper man of long ex- 
perience, having been connected with The Tribune since 1888. 



The Western Newspaper Union, whose headquarters are 
in Omaha, is nationally recognized as "the largest newspaper 
service organization in the world." This newspaper service 
consists principally of. ready-prints and ready-to-print plates, 
and without the aid of this great institution very few country 
newspapers could exist. 

Five thousand country newspapers in the United States 
are furnished weekly with ready-prints, which are sheets 
printed on one side, the reverse side being printed in the local 
office. The plate service is used by practically every one of 
the twelve thousand country newspapers in this country. 

The reading matter is carefully prepared both for the 
ready-prints and plates. Able writers of national reputation 
furnish original articles on leading questions of the day, as 
well as on miscellaneous subjects of general interest. 

Omaha is the clearing house for this colossal business or- 
ganization which operates thirty-two printing plants and pub- 
lication offices in as many prominent cities of the country, six 
exclusive plate foundries where reading matter and advertis- 
ing plates are produced in the form of stereotypes, electrotypes 
and mats, the largest publication plant in the city of Chicago, 
seventeen wholesale paper houses, and, last but not least, pulp 
and paper mills in northern Wisconsin having a monthly ca- 
pacity of approximately four thousand tons of paper, pulp and 
sulphite. 

From the foregoing it can readily be seen that the Western 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



449 



i 



Newspaper Union occupies an important place in the field of 
American journalism. It owes its growth and prosperity 

largely to the late George A. 
Joslyn who during the thir- 
ty years that he was its 
president brought the insti- 
tution to its present propor- 
tions. 

The story of Mr. Jos- 
lyn's career shows what can 
be accomplished by pluck, 
perseverance, and perspica- 
city. I le was born in Lowell, 
Massachusetts, in 1848, and 
was reared in Vermont 
where he received a common 
school education. When he 
was a very young man, ac- 
companied by his wife — 
whose maiden name was 
Sarah L. Selleck — he left 
the Green Mountain state 
to seek his fortune in the 
west the land of opportunity. Reaching Des Moines Ik- con- 
sulted his pocket book and found that it contained nine dollars. 
Seeing that la- could go no further he ai once secured employ- 
ment at $1.50 a day in unloading paper from Freight cars for 
the Iowa Printing company, which was engaged in printing 
ready-prints. Ili^ employers soon saw that he was a man of 
business ability and gave him an office position, which la- filled 
most satisfactorily, and in 1880 la- was made manager "i the 

Company's Omaha branch. In addition to managing this busi- 
ness he successfully conducted the old St. Charles and the 
Metropolitan hotels as a side issue. Mr. Joslyn rose from a 
comparatively humble position with the Western Newspaper 
Union to the presidency, and from 1896 entirely controlled 
the corporation and pushed it t<» the front in every direction. 
Mr. Joslyn, wh<> died October 1. 1916, left a ven lai 
•tune the largest individual fortune in Nebraska. In his 




George A. JonI.mi 



l l 



450 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



will he distributed nearly a million dollars among relatives and 
charitable institutions. During the more prosperous years of 
his life he gave liberally to charity and educational institutions, 
one of his gifts being $25,000 to the University of Omaha. The 
Joslyn home cost over $500,000 and is one of the show places 
of Omaha. In his old home town in Vermont he erected a fine 
library as a memorial to his parents and grandfather. Mr. 
Joslyn attended the Christian Science church, and was a mem- 
ber of the Country club, Omaha club, and Chamber of Com- 
merce. He was also a director of the Merchants National bank, 
and president of the Western Paper company, an auxilliary of 
the Western Newspaper Union. 

Mrs. Joslyn, who was bequeathed the bulk of her hus- 
band's fortune, is one of the most charitable women in Omaha, 
and handles her money as though it were placed in her charge 
as a trust to be used in doing good in the community. Mrs. 
Joslyn is a public spirited woman and takes great interest in 
any enterprise that makes for the upbuilding of Omaha so- 
cially, morally, artistically and commercially. 

Mrs. Joslyn in the win- 
ter of 1923 announced that 
plans had been completed 
for a memorial building to 
her husband. This structure 
will cost about $3,000,000. 
The exterior will be of 
granite and the interior of 
marble, and its dimensions 
will be 186 by 436 feet. It 
will include an auditorium 
with a seating capacity of 
2,000. This magnificent 
building is intended to be 
an art museum and a per- 
manent home for the Omaha 
Society of Fine Arts. Mrs. 
Joslyn also in 1023 gave 
$30,000 to the University of 
Omaha. h. it. Fish 




THE STORY OF OMAHA 451 

* Upon the death of Mr. Joslyn the presidency and general 
management of the Western Newspaper Union passed to 
H. H. Fish, whose connection with the company began in 1893. 
He was born in Oxford, New York, in 1870, his parents be- 
longing to one of the oldest families in the Empire state. The 
family moved to Xeenah, Wisconsin, where Mr. Fish attended 
the public schools and later became a student in Lake Forest 
University in Illinois. Flis first employment was as a clerk in 
the office of the Wisconsin Central railway. In 1896 Mr. Fish 
accepted his first position with the Western Newspaper Union 
as manager of the branch at Lincoln, Nebraska. Two years 
later he was transferred to the Chicago office. In 1900 he was 
advanced to the office of secretary of the company and from 
that time has made Omaha his home. In September, 1916, he 
was made vice president and general manager, and next came 
the presidency. Mr. Fish is a member of the Chamber of 
Commerce, the Omaha Field and Athletic clubs of Omaha, 
and the Union League of Chicago. 



Alfred Sorenson, the author of "The Story of Omaha — 
From Pioneer Days to the Present Time/' is a native of Wis- 
consin, lie was educated in Racine College in that state, and 
graduated from Harvard Law school in 1870. In his boyhood 
days he learned the printer's trade, and began to write for 
newspaper-, lie commenced the practice of law in the office 
of Clarkson & Van Schaack in Chicago. The senior member 
of the firm was the father of the late Judge Clarkson who for 
man) years was a resident of Omaha. Soon after the Chicago 
lire in ( October, 1871, Mr. Sorenson came to Omaha, and find- 
ing the outlook for a young and unknown lawyer anything but 
encouraging he decided to return to the printing trade and ac- 
cordingly obtained employment as a compositor on The Daily 
. winch had been in existence only a few months. Iii the 
spring of 1872 the city editor of The I igned, and Mr. 

Sorenson took his place, and since that time he has been i % ]\- 

<d in newspaper work. When The Bee Publishing company 
was incorporated he became a stockholder and was made secrc 
tarv. In 1881 Mr Sorenson went to The Republican as its city 
editor, but returned to The Bee two years later as its managing 



452 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

editor. When John A. McShane bought The Herald Mr. Soren- 
son was offered and accepted the position of managing editor, 
and held that position until the paper was sold in less than a 
year to Mr. Craig. He then devoted a few months to the publi- 
cation of the second edition of "The Early History of Omaha," 
the first edition having appeared in 1876. When The Republi- 
can passed into the hands of Frank B. Johnson and Fred Nye 
the managing editorship fell to the lot of Mr. Sorenson. In 
a few months The Republican was sold to J. C. Wilcox. It 
was then that Mr. Sorenson decided to make a round trip to 
the Pacific coast, which he accomplished in ten years. On the 
way westward he found employment first on The Rocky 
Mountain News in Denver, and then on The Tribune in Salt 
Lake, next The Miner in Butte, Montana, and reaching Port- 
land in 1891 he was engaged as city editor of The Morning 
Oregonian, remaining in the service of that paper seven years. 
His next move was to San Francisco where he was a member 
of the staff of The Examiner for a few months, and then go- 
ing over to The Call he was given charge of "the military page 
during the Spanish-American war. 

Returning to Omaha in 1889 Mr. Sorenson renewed his 
acquaintances by a year's service on The Bee as city editor. In 
September, 1900, he started The Examiner, an enterprise which 
he had had in contemplation for two years. The Examiner, a 
weekly publication, has met with popular favor and conse- 
quently has proved a success financially and otherwise. 

In 1876 Air. Sorenson married Miss Mary Brown, 
daughter of William D. Brown, a pioneer, who was one of 
the seven founders of Omaha, he having owned two-eighths 
of the original townsite. Mr. and Mrs. Sorenson are the 
parents of three daughters and one son. 



Every Child's Magazine, edited and published by Grace 
Sorenson, made its first appearance in 1914, and since that 
time has attained a national circulation, and in fact an inter- 
national circulation as it has subscribers in England, Canada, 
Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, and even in soviet 
Russia. It carries the name of Omaha, its publication city, to 
nearly every part of the civilized world. This is no exaggera- 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 453 

tion. Omaha should be proud of this publication. Every Child's 
Magazine is published with the idea of interesting children in 
the world's best thoughts thus occupying their minds with 
nature, its wonders and beauties, and with as many of the 
worthwhile things as the child mind can grasp. Its pure, 
good language enables children to speak better English. The 
editorials make them stronger, and more courageous. Its art 
and music departments make them love better things. Its 
travel articles interest children in every part of the globe. The 
Little Writers' department encourages them to develop the 
art of writing. There is a dearth of good stories for children. 
The many good ones in this magazine make it very valuable 
for the home. The ability of Grace Sorenson, the editor, to 
write stories that children like to read, has made her magazine 
famous. Every Child's Magazine is now clubbed with many of 
the leading periodicals, including Woman's World, American 
Woman, McCall's, Pictorial Review, Today, Pathfinder. 
Christian Herald, Modern Priscilla, People's Home Journal, 
Illustrated World, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, and 

several others. 

The Omaha 1'osten — a weekly newspaper — is the out- 
growth of several similar Swedish publications that have 
passed out of existence from time to time. In 1904 The Posten 
company was organized by 150 Swedish business men in 
Omaha and Nebraska, and in 1 ( M0 the paper was purchased 
by Nelson T. Thorson, under whose management it has since 
been published. The Posten has a large local and national cir- 
culation, and wields a Strong influence among the Swedish- 
Americans. It also has a large number <>f subscribers in Swe- 
de!) who take a great interest in the United Stales where s, , 
man)' of their relatives and friends now have their home- 
Mr. Thorson, who was born in I lorby. Sweden, in 1881, 
came to the United State- when he was only six years old, his 

family locating in Nebraska. Me attended school in Lincoln, 

and acquired a good practical education. Me began his busi- 
r a- a propriet >r of two catering establishments < me 

in ( )maha and the Other in St. Louis. In 1910 he entered the 
newspaper held and has made a gratifying success <■! The 

Posten, winch i- one of the three American official representa- 



454 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 




tives of Aftenbladet, the official 
paper of the king of Sweden. Mr. 
Thorson is an active worker in the 
republican party. He was county 

secretary and treasurer of the 
Roosevelt campaign and also of the 
General Wood presidential cam- 
paign, and has filled other similar 
political positions. He also takes a 
keen interest in all affairs that make 
for the betterment of Omaha. Mr. 
Thorson was treasurer of the 
Swedish-American tornado relief 
committee in 1913, and was secre- 
tary of the Nebraska Foreign Press 
association. He is a member of the 
Congressional John Ericsson Mem- 
orial committee. 

Mr. Thorson has several hob- 
bies, one of which is the collection of 
all kinds of smoking pipes from all 
quarters of the world. His smoker's museum contains over 
three hundred rare and unusual varieties of pipes, each having 
an interesting history. Another hobby is the raising of fowls 
of various kinds, such as pheasants, peacocks and hens, and 
pigeons. He is the proud possessor of a beautiful silver prize 
cup won at a recent national poultry show held in Omaha, and 
fifty-four other prizes awarded to him in local poultry shows. 
For several years he was vice president of the Omaha poultry 
association. Mr. Thorson is an extensive collector of coins, in 
which he has invested $7,000. He is the greatest western 
authority on numismatics and is a member of the Swedish, 
Holland and Belgium numismatic societies, and also secretary 
of the American Numismatic society. He also has a hobby for 
odd jewelry, old books, and quaint and curious articles. In his 
library may be found books of great value owing to their age 
and scarcity and historical worth. He is a member of the Ne- 
braska Historical society. 

Mr. Thorson is certainlv a versatile and well-informed 



Xelson T. Thorson 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



455 






man, an entertaining conversationist, and an enterprising pub- 
lisher. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and has 
served on several important committees of that organization. 




John KoNicky 



The late John 
Rosicky, founder of 
the National Print- 
ing company, was a 
native of Bohemia. 
and emigrated to the 
United States in 
1861. Coming to 
Omaha in 1876 he 
was placed in charge 
of Pokrok Zapadu, 
a Bohemian weekly 
publication, which 
had been established 
by Edward Rose- 
water, and in 1877 
he purchased the 
paper and conducted it until 1 ( ^00. when he sold it. In 1890 
Mr. Rosicky established I [ospodar, which today has the largest 
circulation of any Bohemian publication in America. Mr. 
Rosicky was a man of sterling character, indefatigable indus- 
try, progressive idea-, a vigorous writer, and influential among 
the Bohemian citizens of Nebraska and the United States, and 
among all other people with whom he came in contact, lie 
was prominently identified with the leading Bohemian socie- 
ties, lie was president, in 1893 and 1894, of the Bohemian 
National committee i<>v disseminating knowledge about Bo- 
hemian work and interests. Through the medium of his pub- 
lication he was instrumental in influencing a large number of 
Bohemians to locate in Nebraska and thus contribute t<> the 
development of the state. Mr. Rosicky died April 2, 1910, in 
the sixt) fourth year of his age, and Mrs. Rosicky passed awa) 

October 9, 1912. Her maiden name was Mar\ Bayer, and 

she was married t<> Mr Rosicky in 1874 

Mm- National Printing company passed into the mana 



456 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



ment of John G. Rosicky, who has been president of the cor- 
poration since the death of his father. He is also president 
of the National Building company, which in 1916 erected a 
handsome and substantial three-story and basement hre-proof 
building at the southwest corner of Harney and Twelfth 
streets for the permanent home of the printing plant. John G. 
Rosicky was educated in the Omaha public schools and in the 
Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland, where he took 
an electrical engineering course. For thirteen years he was 
employed by the Nebraska Telephone company. His sister, 
Miss Rose Rosicky, is editor of Hospodar, and is otherwise 
interested in the business of the National Printing company. 



The Danish Pioneer, es- 
tablished in 1872 by Mark 
Hansen, has been owned and 
published since 1887 by So- 
phns F. Neble, under whose 
able management it has grown 
to be a paper of great influ- 
ence and of general circulation 
among the Danish citizens of 
the United States, and it also 
circulates largely in Den- 
mark owing to the fact 
that the people of that country 
take a dee]) interest in the af- 
fairs of the United States 
where so many of their rela- 
tives have made their homes 
and have prospered, and have 
become recognized as loyal 
and thrift)' citizens. Sophus Neble was born in Stubbek- 
joebing, Denmark, December 15, 1859, and after being 
educated in the public schools learned the printer's trade, and 
then found employment in the government printing office in 
Copenhagen. Copies of The Danish Pioneer of Omaha oc- 
casionally attracted his attention. From its columns he learned 
a great deal about the United States and he came to the con- 




Sopluis F, Neble 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 457 

elusion that it was the land of opportunity for a young man. 
He was engaged to be married and his finance urged him to 
come to this country and go into the dairy business. Ac- 
cordingly in 1883 he landed in the United States, and going to 
Wisconsin with only a small amount of money he was unable 
to become a dairyman. He therefore went to work for the 
farmers at ten dollars a month. Mr. Xeble subscribed for The 
Danish Pioneer and wrote several interesting letters for the 
paper. This brought him in touch with Mark Hansen, who 
wrote to him and offered him a job as typesetter. That offer 
brought Mr. Xeble to Omaha. After setting type for three 
months he was promoted to the foremanship, and within a year 
he was made assistant editor, soon after becoming editor in 
chief. During his editorship The Pioneer increased in circu- 
lation from 15,000 to 30,000. In July, 1887, Mr. Neble bought 
the paper. lie had very little money, but Mr. Hansen 
gave him all the time that he wanted in which to pay for the 
property. Mr. Hansen, who will be remembered by many of 
the old settlers of Omaha, when sixteen years old 
joined a company of soldiers as they passed through his home 
town <mi tin- way t<» fighl the Germans in 1848. At the conclu- 
sion of this war in 1850 Mr. I lansen came to the United States 
and when the civil war broke <>nt he was one of the very 
first men to enlist in the service of the Union army, lie took 
pan in some of the big battles, and was gradually promoted 
until he reached the rank of a Commissioned officer. Soon after 
the war he located in ( )niaha. and after making a few trips to 
Denver in the freighting business he established The Danish 

Pioneer. Under the ownership of Mr. Xeble The Pioneer has 
reached a circulation of 45.000. It has over 6,000 subscribers in 
Denmark. Located in a building especially built for it. The 

Pioneer is equipped with a modern plant, and an able and ex- 
perienced editorial staff agists Mr. Xeble in the publication. 

Mr. Xeble is a prominent figure in the democratic party, Me 

wa-> a presidential elector three times, and four times he was a 

member of the governor's staff with the rank of colonel. He 

i member of the public welfare board, from winch he 

resigned in 1918 i" lake the position of count} commissioner, 

having been appointed to till a \;ic;nn v The same \e.ir he was 



458 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



elected to the office for a four-year term. As county commis- 
sioner he demonstrated that he could handle public affairs as 
efficiently as he could conduct his private business. Although 
earnestly requested by a host of friends to again become a can- 
didate for this office he declined to run as The Danish Pioneer 
and his other enterprises required his undivided attention. 

For many years Air. Xeble owned and operated a farm of 
340 acres, near Springfield, only an hour's drive from Omaha, 
and said to be one of the model farms of Nebraska. He re- 
cently sold this property. His home on Deer Park boulevard is 
one of the show places of Omaha. Colonel Neble is a director 
of the Nebraska National bank, a member of the leading clubs, 
fraternal orders, commercial organizations, and is a generous 
and public spirited citizen. 



Among the various publications in Omaha in 1923 are the 
following: Daily Drovers Stockman-Journal, weekly Mid- 
West Labor News, weekly True Voice, monthly Motorist, 
weekly Mediator, monthly Sovereign Visitor, weekly Trade 
Exhibit, Daily Record, which publishes the news of the courts. 
The Legionaire, the weekly official organ of the Douglas 
county post of the world war veterans, the weekly Monitor, 
weekly Mid-West Hotel Reporter, Doc Tanner's Nebraska 
Democrat, and Creighton University Chronicle, a monthly. 




.Joint M. Tinnier 



John M. Tanner is one of 
the best known characters in the 
metropolis of Nebraska. His rep- 
utation as a writer, humorist, 
raconteur, and all-round booster 
extends throughout the state. He 
has served as president of the Ne- 
braska editorial association, and 
has been elected state senator six 
times by the democrats, assisted 
by his republican admirers. For 
many years Tanner has edited 
and published The Nebraska 
Democrat in South Omaha. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



459 




\ trin of Old«tilll6 newspaper reporters 

"When shall are three meet ;ik r ;iin 

The above picture li i reprodaetion of ■ photograph taken In 
187 0. irhen there arerc no paved itreete In Omaha and everybody 
wore hoots to arade through the mud The photograph -how 1 w 
Miner, of the old Republican, at the left; AJfred Borenson, of The 
Bee, In the center; and Colonel William Llghtfool Vieacher, of The 
Herald, .-it the right Miner is locial aecretarj of The Omaha 
lodge of Blka, Borenaon publiahea The Examiner, and Viaacher re 
sides in Chicago. 



CHAPTER XXXIX 



IN THE DAYS OE CANADA BILL 



OMATIA A WILD AND WIDE-OPEN TOWN ORIGIN OF A FAMOUS 

POEM NUMEROUS FARO BANKS OPERATIONS OF CANADA 

BILL'S THREE-CARD MONTE GANG DESPERATE CHARACTERS 

THE ALLEN-HOGAN PRIZE FIGHT. 

Hast ever been in Omaha, 

Where rolls the dark Missouri down, 

And four strong horses scarce can draw 
An empty wagon through the town? 

Where sand is blown from every mound 
To fill your eyes and ears and throat — 

Where all the steamers are aground 
And all the shanties are afloat? 

Where whisky shops the livelong night 
Are vending out their poison juice; 

Where men are often very tight, 
And women deemed a trifle loose? 

Where taverns have an anxious guest 

For every corner, shelf and crack; 
With half the people going west, 

And all the others going back? 

Where theaters are all the run, 

And bloody scalpers come to trade; 
Where everything is overdone 

And everybody underpaid? 
If not, take heed to what I say : 

You'll find it just as I have found it; 
And if it lies upon your way, 

For God's sake, reader, go around it! 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 461 

The fore-going jingle, which has almost invariably 
been credited to John G. Saxe, first appeared in "The Drawer" 
department of Harper's Magazine, September, 1869. The 
name of the author is not given. Preceding the verses is this 
note : "A gentleman who was smitten with the Overland- 
Pacific-Railroad fever is incited to describe in disgust his im- 
pressions of that objectionable region." John G. Saxe was 
for many years editor of The Albany Evening Journal, and 
died in 1887. He probably was never farther west than Buffa- 
lo. That he was not the author of the verses, so accurately 
descriptive of Omaha at the time of the completion of the 
Union Pacific, was stoutly maintained by the late Dr. Y'ictor 
H. Coffman, who told me that Frank Streamer wrote them. 

Streamer was a newspaper man who was employed in 
various capacities on the Omaha press for a few years prior 
to 1870. He was a brilliant and versatile writer, but, as is 
sometimes the case with such men, he was addicted to liquor, 
and was his own worst enemy. One very rainy and muddy 
day he called at Dr. Coffman's office, and while waiting for 
the doctor he wrote the poem. When Dr. Coffman came in 
Streamer read it to him and asked his opinion of it. "It's 
first class," replied the doctor, "and you ought to publish it." 
Streamer thereupon sent it to Harper's Magazine. This is 
the true story of "Hasl Ever Been In Omaha." Streamer 
\\;h a wanderer, and when he departed from Omaha In- was 
headed for the Pacific coast What became of him no one 
in this city knows, as he ha- passed "lit of the recollection 
of the old-tinier 

There was more truth than fiction in Streamer's jingle. 
In 1871 the year that I registered in ( )maha — the -licet- were 
linpaved and alternately muddy or dusty, and the sidewalks 
were nearly all constructed of planks. At times omnibuses 
found it difficult to make their way after a rainfall through the 

mud to and from the Union Pacific depot and the ferry land- 
ing. The saloons were "too numerous t<» mention/' and never 
closed Many immoral women inhabited the tenderloin dis- 
trict in the vicinity of Ninth and Douglas street Police 
raid- on the disorderly houses w« I rare occurrence, no 
arrests being made unless -"me serious disturbance required 






462 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

the presence of the officers of the law. Instead of fining these 
women in open police court the custom was to receive the 
monthly fines — $10 for the landladies and $5 for each in- 
mate — from the hands of a messenger who was sent to the 
court to "settle up." This custom was virtually a license sys- 
tem and was in force for many years. The money was sup- 
posed to be turned into the city treasury. Several roadhouses 
did a flourishing business, the most popular being the one 
conducted by Major J. T. Croft, on Croft avenue, now Ames 
avenue. Croft was for many years a teacher of music in this 
city, but in his later years degenerated into the swim of the 
underworld. He died at the age of nearly 95 years. 

There were thirteen faro banks, several keno games and 
numerous poker rooms, all running night and day, seven days 
in the week. Omaha was then and for several years after- 
wards the headquarters of the notorious Canada Bill gang 
of three-card monte sharks. The town was wide open from 
center to circumference, and "everything went." There was 
no waterworks system. The water for domestic use was ob- 
tained from wells. For fire extinguishment water was pumped 
from the river into a series of cisterns at the intersections of 
streets, the pumping being done by the fire engines. The alarm 
of fire was sounded by bells at the engine houses. The town 
presented a barren and bleak appearance, as the trees were 
few and far between and they were nearly all cottonwood. 
There wasn't a first class hotel in the town. Such was the 
uninviting condition of Omaha in 1871, when it had a popu- 
lation of about 16,000. Is it any wonder that Frank Streamer 
was "incited to describe in disgust his impressions" of Omaha? 
And yet Omaha at that time had among its population many 
good and enterprising citizens, and there was less drunkenness, 
vice and crime proportionately than there is today. 

The worst feature of the town was the presence of Can- 
ada Bill's organization, composed of legerdemain card artists, 
cappers and confidence men, among whom were some of the 
smoothest rascals in the United States. They at times used 
some discrimination in their operations in that they were some- 
what careful about turning their tricks on Omaha citizens, but 
whenever they could corral a stranger in the city with "a big 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 463 

roll" they did not hesitate to rob him by means of the three- 
card monte trap. They worked the Union Pacific and the 
Iowa railroads for victims, and if they could not play their 
game on the trains they would steer them into certain saloons 
and dives and there carry out their scheme. Canada Bill was 
the chief manipulator of the three cards, and he was generally 
located in one of a string of saloons waiting for the cappers 
to bring in the victim. The members of this gang were nearly 
all faro bank fiends, and almost invariably gambled away their 
ill gotten gains. And when broke they of course called on 
Canada Bill to help them out until they could bring to his 
game a "run of suckers." Bill was the financier of the or- 
ganization. A thousand stories could be told about this strange 
individual. No one seemed to know where he hailed from. 
Jt was said that his name was Jones, that he was a Canadian 
by birth, and had for years operated on the Mississippi river 
steamers before coming to Omaha. He assumed several roles, 
his favorite one being that of an unsophisticated farmer, with 
a squeaky voice, a slouch hat, and with one trouser leg stuffed 
in the top of his boot. 

Some of the notables of Canada Bill's monte fraternity 
were keen judges of human nature and could readily size up 
their victim, and easily win his confidence and beat him OUl of 
his money. Some assumed the character of a refined gentle- 
man; others played the role of a doctor or some other pro- 
lonal man; some were disguised as farmers; others en- 
acted the part of a merchant, and 50 on. There was an actor 
for every part, and it was difficult for the unsophisticated 
traveler to escape their clutches. 

Sherman Thurston, who had been a wrestler and a rough- 
ind-tumble fighter, was one of Bill's ablest lieutenants, and 

is a capper ranked high in the profession. Doc BaggS, who 
had a national reputation as a bunco steerer, was one of the 
best dressed men ewr mcii on the streets of I )maha. I le wore 
a stove-pipe hat. dark, well fitting clothes, and carried a gold- 

headed cane. In his general make-up lie presented a genteel 
appearance, lie was a clever conversationist and was well in- 
formed on the current topics of the day. Baggs acquired the 
title oi doctor through extracting a large sum of money from 



464 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

a "patient," by making him believe that he had relieved him 
of a tapeworm. 

One of the "stars" of the Canada Bill constellation was 
the notorious John Bull, who had the reputation of being a 
bad man with a gun. But no one would suspect it from his 
neat appearance, quiet demeanor and gentlemanly manners. 
His gun reputation had been gained through his killing a man 
named Farmer Peak in a revolver duel in Montana. He 
pleaded self-defense and was given his freedom. Bull owned 
a couple of hacks which he used in connection with his monte 
occupation. Among other operators under the Canada Bill 
banner were Jim Bush, Bill Lawrence, Rudolph of Milwaukee, 
George Mehaffy, who hailed from Wisconsin; Grasshopper 
Sam, Jim Shotwell, John Sullivan, a gun man and saloon 
keeper, W. E. Train, who claimed to be a nephew of George 
Francis Train, and John J. Doyle. 

Jim Bush was the owner of a well matched team of small 
roan horses that were rapid steppers, and he had a stunning 
looking blonde for his wife. When he left Omaha for Colo- 
rado he sold the horses to Frank Ramge, the dashing and 
fashionable merchant tailor, who drove them until they were 
retired on account of old age. Going up to Leadville, Jim 
Bush became involved in a controversy over a mining claim 
with a man named Arbuckle, upon whom he turned loose a 
shotgun and killed him. Bill Bush, who had grown wealthy 
by operating the Windsor hotel in Denver, came to the assist- 
ance of his brother Jim, who was acquitted on the ground of 
self-defense. 

The monte gang resented any interference with its oper- 
ations by the police or anybody else, and it was dangerous 
for anybody to "run up against them." Any man who "butted 
in" was very likely to meet with very rough treatment at the 
hands of these desperadoes, for such they were. One Decem- 
ber evening in 1872 Captain Kelley of the police entered the 
Crystal saloon, one of the "hangouts" of the gang, and interro- 
gated Bill Lawrence, who was classed as "a tough citizen," 
and asked him a question or two regarding a man who had 
just come out of the place. The result was a sudden and vio- 
lent attack on Captain Kelley, not only by Lawrence but by 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 465 

Harry Clayton, proprietor of the saloon, and Aleck Burke. 
Kelley received a severe pummeling, but eventually landed 
Lawrence in jail, and later rounded up his two other assail- 
ants. The three bullies received a slight fine for assault and 
battery. 

Samuel Atwood, a Burlington baggageman, who had 
pointed out Mehaffy and some of his pals to the railroad offi- 
cials, thus somewhat interfering with their operations on the 
road, was attacked one Saturday night in the vicinity of the 
Crystal saloon by two men, one of whom stabbed him in the 
abdomen. The day following the stabbing the Union Pacific 
shop employees formed a vigilance committee and if Atwood 
had died they would have lynched Mehaffy and Bull, who were 
in jail. A notice was posted in a hotel where monte men boarded 
commanding the three-carders to tell who did the stabbing, and 
a public warning, signed "Committee," was Issued inviting 
the members of the gang to leave Omaha. The officers of 
the law were scored for not ridding the city of murderers 
and robbers, and the warning stated that "if some remedy is 
not speedily applied, and the law strenuously enforced, we 
shall feel called upon to use summary means to carry our pur- 
poses into effect." The next morning the dummy of a man 
was found hanging to a telegraph pole, and the general im- 
pression was that it was an effigy of Canada Bill. 

At the preliminary examination Mehaffy was bound over 
to the district court, and Bull was discharged, as Atwood was 
unable to positively identify him. Mehaffy gave bonds and 

continued to pursue his nefarious occupation until early in 

1874, when he and his running male Bull, were brought be- 
fore the district court to Stand trial for grand larceny. 

A Missourian named Wilkinson bad been inveigled into 

aloon on Ninth street, which was only open \<>v business 
whenever the monte cappers bad in tow a prospective victim. 
While Wilkinson was paying for a round of drinks one of the 
gang -natcbed his roll of $440 and got away with it, the by- 
standers preventing pursuit. For this robbery Mehaffy, Bull and 

eral others were indicted. \ few hours later Wilkinson was 
offered $100 as a compromise, and he accepted the money 
The Union Pacific now intervened and employed Jim Neligh, 



466 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

a detective, to go after the thieves. In accordance with Ne- 
ligh's plan Wilkinson left town for a few days and then re- 
turned with his whiskers shaved off and wearing a different 
suit of clothes, thus changing his appearance. He strolled 
about the streets and finally identified and located every mem- 
ber of the bunch and they were then taken into custody. Me- 
haffy, who was granted a separate trial, was convicted, but 
getting a tip regarding the verdict disappeared, together with 
Bull, who returned in a few days, and later was acquitted, his 
defense, substantiated by three-card testimony, being that Wil- 
kinson lost his money in trying to beat Canada Bill's game. 
Mehaffy never came back, and in 1875 the case against him 
for the stabbing of Atwood was dismissed. Bull soon after 
made Denver his headquarters and operated from that point 
for several years in company with Doc Baggs and others. 
While in Spokane in the early nineties Bull, who had grown 
quite old, was terribly battered up in a fight with another bad 
man. 

Bull was met in Kansas in the summer of 1920 by an 
old-timer of Omaha. He was minus his left arm, which had 
been amputated below the elbow. This was probably the re- 
sult of his fight in Spokane. He is, in all probability, the sole 
survivor of the old Canada Bill mob. 

In April, 1873, Kingman Fisher, a New York farmer, 
lost $1,000 at monte and was induced to leave town upon the 
return of $200. Coming back in a few days, he engaged Sav- 
age & Manderson and C. B. Parsons of Kearney to bring a 
civil action for the recovery of his money. The suit was 
brought against William Jones (Canada Bill), Sherman 
Thurston, Jay Adams, John Doe and Gilbert Rustin, the city 
marshal. It was charged that Rustin had handed the $200 to 
Fisher, having been given the money by Thurston, and also 
that Fisher was told if he returned to Omaha to prosecute 
Canada Bill he would very likely be arrested for gambling. 
The next day Rustin arrested Canada Bill and had him fined 
$10 for gambling, representing to Judge Dudley that the com- 
plaining witness, Fisher, had left the city. The suit against 
Canada Bill, Thurston, Rustin and others, after lengthy legal 
sparring, was settled out of court, and the action was dismissed. 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 467 

The public feeling against Marshal Rustin resulted in the 
bringing of an impeachment trial in September, 1873, by the 
city council, and after a tedious examination of many witnesses 
he was acquitted by a vote of eleven to one. Councilman Jim 
Stephenson voted for his impeachment. 

The Canada Bill gangsters figured prominently in the 
Allen-Hogan prize fight, an event which proved of intense 
interest in sporting circles throughout the country. The ex- 
cursionists, including a big crowd of all classes of men from 
Omaha and dead game sports and crooks from nearby towns 
and distant cities, boarded the special train of eight coaches 
at the transfer station in Council Bluffs on the morning of 
November 18, 1873. An attempt by Sheriff Dougherty of 
Pottawattamie county, in command of two companies of mili- 
tia sent from Des Moines by the governor of Iowa, to stop the 
excursion was unsuccessful, as he could not show the railroad 
superintendent — Bradbury from Missouri — any legal author- 
it) for interfering with the operation of trains. Bradbury, 
who was somewhat of a sport himself, refused to let the sheriff 
have a special train to follow the prize-fighting party. Seven 
miles from Council Bluffs Allen and Hogan were picked up. 
and ten miles farther on the passengers detrained near the 
station of Pacific Junction, which had been selected as the 
scene <>f the battle. At 1 :30 ]). m. the squared arena was an- 
nounced ready for business. The notorious John Bull was 
chosen referee, but was rejected, owing to vigorous protests. 
George Mehaffy, Dan Allen, and others were likewise turned 
down, and finally Tom Riley of Kansas City was selected to 
fill the high and responsible position. William Carroll was 
elected umpire for Hogan and Jack Looney was chosen to act 
in this capacity for Allen. Sherman Thurston and fohn 

Sweeney appeared as seconds for Hogan, and Arthur Cham- 
bers of New York and Jack Madden were called upon to 
Second Allen. Bull was pacified by being made time-keeper. 

As Hogan, who was the favorite, stepped into the ring 

the sheriff <>l Mills COUnty came Up and read the riol act to 

Allen and then to Hogan, and called upon some of the inno- 
cent bystanders to assist him in making the arrests, This 
caused the crowd to jeer him and a big burly fellow offered to 



468 I in-: STORY OF OMAHA 

assist him off the field. That settled it, and the sheriff, who 
was rather sporty himself, bought a badge entitling him to 
witness the fight at the ringside. 

The battle was brief. The first round elosed by Hogan 
knocking Allen down. In the second round Hogan landed on 
Allen's nose and drew blood and Allen put Hogan's left eye 
in deep mourning. Hogan responded with a vicious blow which 
which brought blood from Allen's mug. Allen now struck 
what was claimed to be a foul, but the round was allowed to 
proceed, and resulted in Hogan being knocked down. Early 
in the third round Allen made another foul. An exciting 
scene ensued. Just as the fourth round was about to begin 
the three-card monte men, who had bet heavily on Hogan, cut 
the ropes and entered the ring with drawn revolvers, demand- 
ing fair play, and that Riley give judgment in favor of Hogan. 
The spectators generally scattered and sought shelter. How- 
ever, there was no shooting, some cool-headed man having 
quieted the mob. Riley declared the fight at an end and on 
the homeward bound train he decided it to be a draw. 

Eagan, the stakeholder, announced that the $2,000 prize 
money would be given to Allen. He was arrested on the 
charge of embezzlement, and Strickland & Webster, in behalf 
of Hogan, attached his jewelry and $300 in money. The stake 
money was in St. Louis, and Eagen telegraphed for $1,000, 
which he turned over to Hogan's lawyers, and thus obtained 
his release. 

Tom Allen, an Englishman who had run a saloon for 
some years in St. Louis, was a champion fighter and the win- 
ner of many hotly contested battles. He declared that he 
would never appear in the ring again. This was one of the 
few last important prize fights that were fought with bare 
fists. 

Ben Hogan hailed from Alleghany City, Pennsylvania, 
where he operated a combination saloon and dance hall. A 
few years after his fight with Allen he became a reformed 
man and evoluted into an evangelist. He was sincere in his 
reformation, and in evangelising work on the Pacific coast he 
succeeded in doing a great deal of good among the down-and- 
outcrs, many of whom he helped financially so far as his then 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 469 

limited purse would permit. He went to Honolulu from the 
Pacific coast. 

This famous prize fight added to Omaha's wild and woolly 
reputation. Nearly every newspaper in the country gave the 
town a black eye. "We are not certain that Omaha is a fit 
subject for an editorial," said a Kansas City paper, "but this 
we know, no better subject for the prayers of a nation can be 
found. * * * * It requires but little, if any, stretch of 
the imagination to regard Omaha as a very cesspool of iniquity, 
for it is given up to lawlessness and is overrun with a horde of 
fugitives from justice and dangerous men of all kinds who 
carry things with a high hand and a loose rein. * * * * 
Curses are wafted on every breeze, wickedness abounds every- 
where, and after learning the true state of affairs the visitor's 
impulse is to fly from the place as though it were a terrible 
scourge. * * * * Mobs of monte men, pickpockets, 
brace faro dealers, criminal fugitives of every class find con- 
genial companions in Omaha, and a comparative safe retreat 
from the officers of the law. * * * * If you want to 
find a rogue's rookery, go to Omaha." 

The St. Louis Democrat, among other things, said : "Oma- 
ha is emphatically a rapid city. Whisky shops arc innumer- 
able, and attached to each is a faro bank, which is kept in full 
blast night and day. Many keno and poker rooms arc also to 
be found. All games of chance are carried on in broad day- 
light, and it is nol unusual while passing along the streets to 

half a dozen or more sports playing 'agin bank.' If the 
day be hoi windows or doors are left open with impunity while 
the game is in pr< >gress." 

One of the "drop in" places of the monte men was the 
Centra] Beer Garden, on South Ninth street, near the Union 
Pacific depot, and which was conducted by Ed Kreissman, 

who "stood in" with the sharks. It was in this place that a 

St. Joseph merchant was three carded "in of $4,000 He re 

fused t«» squeal because he was a prominent church member. 

Ills brother was a leading merchant «>i Omaha. By the way, 

anion- I anada Bill's \ ictinis there w as many a church member. 

and sometimes a preacher was caught in the net It is related 
ol an Omaha deacon, who was a producer and peddler | 



470 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

horseradish, that having lost considerable money at monte 
while visiting in Kearney he was "churched," and explained 
to his fellow church members that he had tried to beat Canada 
Bill out of some cash which he intended to present to the Sun- 
day school for the purchase of a much needed library. Kreiss- 
man had an extended and adventurous career as an ocean 
sailor, and had served throughout the war of the rebellion on 
one of the Mississippi river gunboats. He was present at the 
capture of Vicksburg. In October, 1878, he became involved 
in a quarrel with Alexander Daemon, proprietor of the St. 
James hotel, and shot him twice, causing death a few days later. 
Kreissman proved that he shot in self-defense. 

It was not until about 1876 that Omaha was entirely rid 
of the Canada Bill mob. But the city continued for years 
after to be wide open for "legitimate" gambling and vice gen- 
erally. Canada Bill, who had robbed his victims of many 
hundreds of thousands of dollars, died a pauper in a Pennsyl- 
vania poorhouse. 




CHAPTER XL 



A WIDE-OPEN TOWN 






PUBLIC GAMBLING WAS PERMITTED FARO, KENO, POKER — 

UNDERWORLD CHARACTERS ROBBERY OF ANNA WILSON — 

HARRY CLAYTON SENT TO THE PENITENTIARY MATT HAR- 
RIS CALLS JACK MORROW'S BLUFF SENSATIONAL ELOPE- 
MENT OF A MINISTER WITH THE WIFE OF MATT HARRIS ' 

MRS. HARRIS LATER MARRIES JACOB S. SPAUN, A PROMINENT 

LAWYER FRANK SHAW A REMARKABLE POKER HAND 

THE "BIG FOUR" GAMBLING COMBINATION. 

Open gambling was permitted in Omaha for many years. 
It was virtually licensed by the payment of occasional light 
fines imposed by the police court. There were numerous faro 
hanks in Omaha in 1871, and several poker room--, keno 
games and "dollar stores," where, for a dollar, the customer 
was allowed to draw an envelope from a hox and stand a 
chance of winning a prize of $1.00 up to $50. So the cappers 
told the muckers. The "dollar stores" were pure hum-) games 

and were eventually compelled to close, the authorities acting 

at the request of the square gamblers. 

The gambling houses ran every day and night, including 

Sundays. Once in a great while a raid was pulled off by the 

police merely to make it appear that the officers of the law 
were n<>t entirely forgetful of the performance of their duty. 
The gamblers resumed operations the next day ;is it' nothing 
unusual had happened, and continued without interruption for 
months at a time. 

One notable raid was made under the state law <>n the 

faro banks, in December, 1873, 1»n Deput) Sheriff Frank Man- 



472 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Ion, who with his assistants rounded up a big bunch of sports. 
This raid was soon followed in a few days by another on the 
keno rooms, this being carried out by Captain Ryan of the 
city police force. The largest haul was made in the room 
conducted by "Mose and Aleck" — Sturman & Burke — in Pio- 
neer block, this game having been immensely popularized by 
the introduction of tempting free lunches and drinks. Cap- 
tain Ryan acted without the knowdedge of Marshal Rustin, who 
at midnight called Judge Dudley to the police court to accept 
bail for the prisoners. Judge Dudley, who was very friendly 
to the gambling fraternity, fixed the bail at $5. The judge, the 
marshal and others adjourned to the notorious Crystal saloon, 
and there held a social session at the bar. The next day Judge 
Dudley fined the gamblers $5. 

This raid w r as made on complaint of several prominent 
citizens, and it ended the keno games for some time. Moses 
Sturman, the senior member of the firm of "Mose and Aleck,'' 
now devoted his talent to dealing faro for Dan Allen. His 
next occupation was running a roadhouse. Sturman finally 
took a reef in his career and succeeded in securing the appoint- 
ment of a district court bailiff. He made a very efficient offi- 
cial, serving for several years, up to the time of his death. 
Moses Sturman was a man of strict integrity, and in his later 
years was a respected citizen. Prior to his coming to Omaha, 
in 1866, he had been all over the Pacific coast and was en- 
gaged in various occupations, including mining. He was a 
native of Brooklyn, New York. 

The two most popular gambling houses in Omaha during 
the 70's were located in the second story of the Pioneer block, 
one being conducted by Dan Allen and the other by "Stutter- 
ing" Brown, who was succeeded by Tom Dozier. Brown was 
assassinated while on his way to the Black Hills in 1876. While 
seated in the stage coach he was shot from ambush. His 
death settled an old grudge. 

Allen's room was connected with a pawnshop on the 
ground floor by a dumb waiter for the convenience of the 
players whenever they "went broke." Watches, diamonds and 
other jewelry were lowered to the pawnbroker with a request 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 473 

to send up all the money that the stuff was good for. Back 
would come the money, and the player, if lucky, would at once 
redeem his property, paying a heavy interest. It was not unusu- 
al for a player to "soak'' his gold watch or diamond several 
times a night. The pawnbroker's interest would soon eat up a 
diamond and considerably more. This particular pawnbroker 
accumulated quite a fortune from the patrons of faro banks. 

After the Pioneer block was destroyed by fire, in 1877, 
Allen re-opened his game in a two-story building, around the 
corner on the east side of Twelfth street, and there continued 
to "deal bank" until his death in April, 1884. 

Dan Allen was born in Watertown, New York, and when 
a young man located in Peoria, Illinois, remaining there eight- 
een years. Pie engaged in steamboating on the Illinois river 
and became the owner of a steamer and also a towboat which 
operated between La Salle and St. Louis. Prior to becoming 
a steamboat owner he made a trip to New Orleans and there 
engaged in a wrestling match for quite a large stake. Had he 
not won the match he would have been flat broke. Allen, by 
the way. was a very solidly built man, somewhat after the 
style of John Sullivan. In 1866 he became a resident of 
( )malia and ventured into the business of buying and selling 
horse-, especially trotters and runners. In 1871 he took up 
gambling and gained the reputation of giving everybody "a 
square deal. 91 It was at a roadside resort, in the northwest 
outskirts of Omaha, that Dan Allen is said to have met the 

woman who became his life consort. That woman was Anna 
Wilson, who became known as the queen of the underworld. 

Mn Thanksgiving night in 187S a masquerade ball was 
given in a ball connected with Marry Clayton's Crystal saloon, 

and Anna Wilson, arrayed in a beautiful COStume and be- 
decked with dazzling diamonds, was there in all her glory, the 
star of the evening. Champagne flowed freel} and Anna \\ il- 
son, becoming over-loaded with the sparkling and exhilarating 
liquid, was assisted into a hack and o »n\ e\ ed to her home. The 
t morning she found that -he had been r<>hbed of her dia- 
monds, valued at over $10,000 This robbery was committed 
by Harry Clayton and associate < layton was arrested and 



474 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

Allen sent word to his pals that if the diamonds were not re- 
turned he would send them all to the penitentiary as he had 
the evidence against them. The answer was that if he would 
cross the river, go south a quarter of a mile, and step into 
a small cottage, he would find the diamonds under a pillow in 
a bedroom. Allen followed the directions and recovered the 
stolen gems. Clayton was prosecuted by District Attorney 
Connell and was convicted. After serving a term in the peni- 
tentiary Clayton went to New York state, his former home, 
where he died soon after. He was a tall, dark complexioned 
man, with a heavy moustache, and reminded one of the ideal 
villain of the melodrama. 

Anna Wilson, who was a shrewd business woman, accu- 
mulated quite a fortune, through careful real estate invest- 
ment. It amounted to nearly a quarter of a million dollars, 
nearly all of which she bequeathed to various hospitals, chari- 
table associations, Prospect Hill cemetery, and the city of 
Omaha. In her will she left $5,000 to W. J. Connell, her le- 
gal adviser, and $5,000 to A. L. Reed, who had charge of her 
property for many years. Under the management of Messrs. 
Connell and Reed, the estate doubled in value in five years 
after her death, and the beneficiaries each received a much 
larger sum than that named in the will. 

In her will she directed that her library, including her il- 
lustrated Bible, the works of Shakespeare, and many other 
standard works, be either sold or "be given to some worthy 
institution in the city of Omaha which can make use of said 
books.'' 

Anna Wilson was a woman of mystery. Xo one knew 
whence she came. It was generally believed that she was a 
southern woman and came from a respectable family. This 
may explain her secretiveness regarding her origin. It is 
likely that Dan Allen first met her in New Orleans and induced 
her to come to Omaha. A handsome monument was erected 
in Prospect Hill over the grave of Dan Allen by Anna Wilson, 
who always kept his grave green and strewn with Mowers 
up to the time of her fatal illness, which occurred in 1911. 
She was buried by his side. 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 475 

The genteel gambling room of Matt Harris, located in 
the second story of a building in Caldwell block, was the resort 
of high-toned players, among whom were numerous army 
officers. Several men were indicted for gambling, one of 
them being Colonel Litchfield of the artillery. With the ex- 
ception of Colonel Litchfield, they slipped into court, pleaded 
guilty, and paid a fine. The colonel, however, determined 
to stand trial, in order, as he declared, to learn who were the 
witnesses against him, so that later on he could "play even" 
with them. No witnesses appeared and the case was dis- 
missed. 

One of the patrons of this resort was the notorious Jack 
Morrow, who was then a frontiersman and had a trading 
ranch near Cottonwood Springs in Lincoln county. He was 
regarded as a tough citizen and a bad man with a gun. One 
night while in Omaha on one of his frequent sprees he cre- 
ated quite an exciting scene in the Harris gambling room. An 
eye witness related the incident as follows: "Morrow had lost 
about $3,000, and suddenly whipped out a six-shooter, and 
pointing it at the dealer said: 'You pulled two cards on me. 
I have lost my money against your brace game; and you'll 
hand it back or I'll put a bullet through you.' The dealer was 
Matt Harris— a very cool man who quietly remarked: 'You 
arc mistaken. Jack; but we do not want any misunderstand- 
ing; you may have your money.' 

"Harris stopped the deal, counted out $3,000, and shoved 
it over the table to Morrow, who put the money in his pocket 
and was about to leave. 'Won't you have a drink before you 

asked I larris, who at once ordered the liquid refreshment. 

('losing the game, be went into another room and soon re- 
turned with two revolvers, and said: 'Jack, you had the drop 

on me. but now I have got it on y« >u ; we don't want any fuss, 

but you must put the money I paid you back on the table; put 
your gun there first, and if you attempt to make a gun play I'll 

kill you or someone else will." Morrow burst into loud laugh- 
ter and declared that he had only been joking. "I thought so,' 
replied Harris, 'but I was not sure of it until I got mj guns. 1 
Morrow placed his weapon on the table and then returned the 



476 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



money, and after taking a drink departed with the invitation 
from Harris 'to come around tomorrow when you are sober 
and get your gun.' " 

Jack Morrow hegan his ca- 
reer on the plains in the ca- 
pacity of a government team- 
ster, and it is related that he 
"tapped the freights" and thus 
acquired some working capi- 
tal. He entered into partner- 
ship with old Constant, a 
Frenchman, and opened a 
trading post at Dogtown, near 
Fort Kearney. The partner- 
ship did not last long, and 
Constant swore that he had 
been robbed. Morrow now 
located at a point twelve miles 
west of Cottonwood Springs, 
where he in 1869 established 
his notorious ranch, erecting 
quite a large two-story build- 
ing and stocking it with merchandise in demand by the immi- 
grants, gold hunters and pilgrims generally. 

It is told of him that he employed a band of Indians to 
stampede the stock of the west-bound adventurers, and after 
they had passed on to bring the cattle and horses back from the 
sandhills and turn the animals into his own herd. For a while 
Hugh Morgan, an honest man, experienced in mercantile deal- 
ings, was his partner. Morrow accumulated a considerable 
fortune and came to Omaha , where he built a swell residence 
and lived in high style. He made a great deal of money in fur- 
nishing ties and timber for the Union Pacific construction, but 
in a few years he dissipated his fortune through gambling 
and liquor. His bravery was somewhat of a doubtful char- 
acter, although it is said that in his fight with Murphy, a des- 
perado, whom he killed, he exhibited remarkable coolness and 
nerve. An Omaha newspaper reporter published a scandal in 




Juck Morrow 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 477 

which Morrow was one of the principals, and he was advised 
to leave town as Jack was "a bad man with a gun." The re- 
porter remained at his post, and a few days later he met Mor- 
row face to face. "Say, sonny, I want to see you," said Mor- 
row. "What about?" asked the reporter. "I want you to step 
into Dick Wilde's and take a drink with me," replied Morrow. 
The reporter accepted the invitation. Xot a word was said 
about the publication of the scandal. The fact is that Jack 
Morrow was a big bluffer. 

The incident that occurred in the gambling room 
of Matt Harris proved that Morrow had a streak of yellow 
in his composition and that Harris was a cool and deter- 
mined man. One would naturally conclude that Harris would 
have shot on sight the minister who eloped with his beautiful 
blonde wife. The pastor of the First Baptist church was Rev. 
J. If. Ruby, who had been an actor. He was a handsome, 
dark-haired man, and somewhat resembled Edwin Booth. 
Mrs. Harris was a devout member of his congregation and a 
teacher in the Sunday school. One day Rev, Mr. Ruby and 
Mrs. Harris disappeared together, and when the elopement 
became known it created a tremendous sensation. A few 
weeks later Mrs. Harris — who was known as "the lady in 
black," owing to the fact that she invariably dressed in dark 
colors — returned from the east and made a strenuous denial 
of any wrong-doing, declaring she bad gone with her son, and 
had not seen Mr. Ruby during her absence; that she had sepa- 
rated from her husband owing to his occupation, with the un- 
derstanding that she could conn- back to him when she wished, 
and that -he was now here to remain and live down the cruel 
slander. 

A few days later Rev. Mr. Ruby reappeared in Omaha 
penniless, and secreted himself in a friendly doctor'- office. 

He claimed to be more sinned against than sinning same old 

story. Some friends raised enough money to scud him t<> 
lu> old home in California, where h was said he had a family. 
Matt Harris and his wife became reconciled, but a few \< 
later Mrs. Harris wandered again from the path of rectitude, 
bee. nnii- the clandestine companion of Jacob S Spaun, a 



478 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

prominent lawyer, who in 1875 represented Douglas county 
in the state senate. Spaun, who was for several years the 
partner of George E. Pritchett, was a brilliant orator and was 
generally recognized as a man of great ability in his profes- 
sion. His infatuation for the beautiful wife of Matt Harris 
was the cause of a divorce and the breaking up of the Spaun 
family, who resided in a handsome home near Creighton col- 
lege. The pleadings of his friends to sever his relations with 
the fascinating blonde beauty proved unavailing. Spaun had 
also become addicted to liquor. He continued on the down- 
ward trail, and soon after the death of Matt Harris he went 
to Cheyenne, whither the widow followed him. There they 
were married, and "lived happily ever after." Spaun braced 
up and became quite a prominent and respected citizen of 
Cheyenne. 

Old-time sports will easily remember the faro games of 
"Dutch Charlie" Klader in the Crystal saloon, Godfrey & Hig- 
gins, Red Lightburn, Turf Exchange, Billy Donnelly, Charley 
Branch, Cy James, Jim McCord, Jack Sheppard, Bill Thode, 
Baldwin, Jack Morrison, Shaw & Ratliffe, and others. 

In 1881 there appeared in Omaha a bold, dashing gambler 
named Frank Shaw, hailing from Minneapolis. In company 
with Tom Ratliffe of Council Bluffs he opened a gambling 
room over Hornberger's saloon, 1321 Douglas street, where 
a thriving business was done for several years. Shaw also 
established a poker room in Union block — where now stands 
the World-Herald building — furnishing it in handsome style, 
and supplying sumptuous lunches to the high-class players for 
whom it was conducted. It was in this room that a most re- 
markable play came up. The game was seven-handed, jack- 
pot, $1.50 ante. Several rounds were dealt, some of the play- 
ers standing the raises and others dropping out. Finally only 
two players remained — George Mills, who was dealing, and 
Doc Fishblatt, a quack doctor. Fishblatt had a pat diamond 
flush and Mills had four aces. Thinking he had a cinch, Mills 
triumphantly threw down his four aces face up, saying : "Beat 
it if you can." Fishblatt examined his hand and found that by 
discarding one card he stood a very slim chance of making 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 479 

a straight flush. He made the discard and said : "Mills, turn 
me over the five spot of diamonds." Mills did so, much to his 
own surprise, as well as that of everybody else. That five-spot 
filled the Fishblatt flush in the middle, making it a straight 
flush. Fishblatt drew down a pot of over $500. Had not 
Mills exposed his hand he would have won the pot, as Fish- 
blatt would naturally have stood pat. Some years later Fish- 
blatt became a leader in the Salvation army in the southern 
states. 

Frank Shaw was a plunger and played against the 
faro banks and roulette wheels of his competitors. It was no 
unusual thing for him to lose from $2,500 to $5,000 at rou- 
lette and then play even and sometimes "win big." When he 
left Omaha he turned to horse racing on the big circuits. 

It was in 1887 that the "Big Four" combination was or- 
ganized by Charles D. Bibbins, H. B. Kennedy, Charles White 
and Jack Morrison. Their establishment was called the Dia- 
mond, which occupied two stories of a building on Douglas 
street. The ground floor was taken up with an expensively 
equipped bar, and a pool room in the rear for betting on horse 
races. The second floor was devoted to faro, roulette, hazard, 
stud poker and other money separators. This institution had 
a successful run for several years. , 

Bibbins, who had been a conductor on one of the eastern 
railroads entering Chicago, having lost considerable money 
against faro bank, determined to recover it, and more, by get- 
ting "on the inside.'' Me quit the road and became connected 
with a Chicago faro bank, and having thoroughly "learned 
the ropes/' he came t«» Omaha and joined hands with White. 

Kennedy and Morrison. Kennedy came here from Missouri 

and White was ;m easterner. Morrison was from Texas 

Upon departing from Omaha the members of the "Big Four" 

located in Spokane. Morrison SOOn dropped out of the com- 
bination, and Kennedy withdrew and established a big gamb- 
ling house in Seattle, which lie conducted For several years 

Later he engaged in the Steamboat business on Pugel Sound 

He died in 1919, leaving quite a o tmfortable f< >rtune. ( harle\ 
White is also dead Bibbins now lues m ( Oakland, California, 



480 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

and is the owner of a string of picture shows in San Francisco 
and elsewhere on the Pacific coast, and has grown wealthy. 
He established Tom Bidderson, his favorite faro dealer, in 
the cigar business in San Francisco. Morrison died in Port- 
land, Oregon, in February, 1922. 

Some of the old-timers no doubt have a vivid recollec- 
tion of "Uncle" John Stanton, a broken-down old sport, who 
made himself a general nuisance not only around the gam- 
bling rooms, but in the saloons and business houses. He was 
a "moocher" of the thirty-third degree. He was one of the 
most profane men that ever lived. He was a town nuisance. 
He was abusive to everybody. He acted the role of a frontier 
bully and desperado. His favorite salutation to acquaintances 
or strangers was: "You superannuated son of a sea cook," or 
words to that effect, and accompanying this expression with 
a flow of profanity he would almost invariably put his right 
hand in his hip pocket as if to draw a revolver. But he was 
harmless. Yet he frightened many a tenderfoot stranger. 
Stanton was a Missourian and came to Omaha with a gambler 
named Jerry Lewis. He was in Virginia City, Montana, in 
1864, and became acquainted with the late Senator Millard, 
who at that time was engaged in the banking business in the 
famous mining camp. Later in Omaha Stanton was a fre- 
quent visitor at the Omaha National bank to borrow a quarter 
or a half from Senator Millard. One day he said to the sena- 
tor: "Joe, lend me a dollar." He got it and departed. The 
next day he came again and said, "Joe, I owe you a dollar; let 
me have two more and that will make three." He was handed 
the two dollars and was told that if he ever entered the bank 
again he would be thrown out. This was a sample of his 
"mooching" the business men, who "came across" rather than 
be cursed and abused to the limit. Dan Allen gave an order 
to Wirth, the restaurateur, to let Stanton have a meal occa- 
sionally, and he ran the bill up to $50. Allen went to the res- 
taurant to settle the account and found Stanton there enjoying 
a square meal. Stanton flew into a rage and let (Hit a terrific 
flow of profanity, and said to Allen: "Who told you to insult 
me by paying my board?" 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 481 

The faro bank gamblers continued to do business with 
only an occasional interruption of brief duration, and were 
well pleased with the cessation of keno, which had seriously 
interfered with their patronage. In 1884, it becoming evident 
to some of the prominent citizens that the gamblers were pay- 
ing for police protection, an investigation was started and 
soon resulted in the conviction of Roger C. Guthrie, the city 
marshal, for accepting bribes. He was sent to the penitentiary 
for two years and owing to his refusal to testify against his 
partners in the crime the trials of .other accused parties were 
blocked. It was claimed that Guthrie was handed $5,000 "to 
keep his mouth shut." Guthrie upon his release went to Cali- 
fornia, where he died some years later. The case against him 
was prosecuted by District Attorney Parke Godwin, who died 
recently in Los Angel' 

The boss gamblers, who were a very social set among 
themselves, nearly every afternoon indulged in a session of 
poker in a room over Dick Wilde's saloon, northeast corner of 
Farnam and Twelfth streets. Wilde, who was a native of 
Xew York city, was a great admirer of horses, and was the 
owner of a magnificent roadster, lie was the first man to 
own a side-bar buggy in Omaha. Me also had the distinction 
of introducing Coney Island chowder as a tempting dish at 
his free lunch counter. 

The "liberal" element, composed of gamblers, saloon 
keepers, bartenders, hack drivers and their patrons and friends, 

and riffraff generally, was a dominant factor in ( >maha politics 

during a long stretch of tune. This was especially the c-hr 

in the hirst ward, which then included what Is now the Third 
ward, in whose boundaries was located the tenderloin district 

and the segregated section of vice. 

In 1873 Councilman Inn Stephenson had the audacity t<» 
introduce a resolution raising tin- saloon license from $100 
£300 a year. \i an indignation meeting in the First ward 
a resolution was adopted denouncing Stephenson and re<|nesi- 
ing him to resign. \ committee was appointed to secure sig- 
natures to the petition for Stephenson's resignation. The 
( )inaha Republican objected to Stephenson' I license n 






482 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

lution on the ground that the price of whisky would be raised 
to 25 cents a drink, and beer to 10 cents a glass. This laudable 
objection from an influential journal no doubt caused the in- 
definite postponement of the proposed boost of the saloon li- 
cense. Stephenson did not resign. At that time there were 
132 saloons in Omaha. From 1869 until 1888 the First ward 
was represented in the city council by saloon keepers, or their 
friends, as follows: L. C. Richards, M. J. McKelligon, H. J. 
Lucas, A. McGavock, Barney Shannon, Fritz Riepen, Henry 
Hornberger, M. A. McNamara, D. L. McGuckin, Paddy Ford 
and Dick Burdish. And the vote of the First ward frequently 
decided the city or county general election. "As goes the 
First ward, so goes the city," was a sterotyped expression. In 
those days there was no registration. Votes were openly bought 
for a dollar and upward, and the voter was escorted to the 
polling place to insure his depositing the right ballot. And 
there were repeaters — as numerous as bounty jumpers during 
the war of the rebellion — who went from one polling place 
to another and voted without much danger of being challenged. 
Purity in politics was then an unknown quantity. There was 
no corrupt practices act to curb the political villainy. 

The most fashionable Omaha bar and billiard hall in 1871 
was operated by Ed Parker, who was as swell a dresser as 
Frank Ramge, the bon ton tailor. "One evening, soon after 
I came to Omaha from Chicago," said an old-timer, "I dropped 
into Parker's place, one door east of the Academy of Music 
entrance, and among the patrons of the bar I saw a very styl- 
ishly dressed man, wearing a stove-pipe hat and carrying a 
gold-headed cane. He was drinking champagne with a com- 
panion who was his guest. I had never seen in Chicago a more 
sporty looking man. It was Frank Ramge." Ed Parker aban- 
doned the saloon business, and, going to Chicago, estabished 
the firm of Parker & Tilton, men's hatters. 

The first telling blow that was struck at the liquor busi- 
ness was the passage of the Slocumb local option law in 1881, 
requiring among other things an annual license of $1,000 in 
advance, the giving of bonds for damages, and no opening of 
saloons on Sunday or election day. The strict enforcement 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



483 



of this law was strongly advocated by many prominent citi- 
zens, among whom was Colonel Watson B. Smith, clerk of 
the United States circuit court, and it was generaly believed 
that he was shot for the part he had taken against the liquor 
element. The mystery surrounding his death has never been 
solved. 







CHAPTER XLI 



FARNAM AND SIXTEENTH STREETS 



REDICK'S OPERA HOUSE AN ARCHITECTURAL MONUMENT 

CAPITAL PRIZE IN PATTEE'S LOTTERY PATTEE's OMAHA 

CAREER FOUR MOST VALUABLE CORNERS IN OMAHA. 

The intersection of Farnam and Sixteenth streets — now 
the center of the retail and financial districts of Omaha — is a 
locality that is full of historic interest. In 1866 the north- 
west corner of the two streets was unoccupied except by the 
First Congregational church — a small brick structure. The 
southeast corner was the residence of Charles Goodrich. The 
courthouse stood on the northeast corner. 

In the spring of 1857 the city council deeded to the county 
a block then known as Washington square, bounded by Fif- 
teenth, Farnam, Sixteenth and Douglas streets, on condition 
that a courthouse should be built on the property. All lots, 
except the northeast corner of Farnam and Sixteenth, 132 
feet square, were sold and the proceeds put into a courthouse 
building fund. This first courthouse was completed in 1857. 
It was a plain brick structure, two stories, with high basement, 
which contained cells for city and county prisoners. The 
first floor was occupied by the county officials, and the second 
story was the courtroom. 

Farnam street, west of Sixteenth, was mostly unoccupied 
territory. There were only a few straggling small houses and 
no sidewalks. It was simply a rough roadway. The long 
three-story frame building in the foreground of the accom- 
panying picture — taken in 1872 — was built by the late John I. 
Redick for offices on the first floor and an opera house in the 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



485 



r * ■ ■ * 



- *3 

r ^ n 
5 2 - 

i m " 

I. •* 



B —3 

£ - •« 
i ■ _ 



- i - 

3 ~ r - 



/ 2 



- * i 

• ■ A 

5 = = 

= - Z 
' r- r 

0* 

Eg! 

1 2 



-f 1 

* r 

£~ 

Is 

- ' r 
■ 1 = 



- i r 




486 THE STORY OF OMATTA 

two upper stories. Senator Millard's former residence is 
shown at the corner of Farnam and Seventeenth, where now 
stands the Omaha National bank, formerly the New York- 
Life Insurance company's building. In the next block the 
little cottage was the dwelling place of the late Edward Rose- 
water, who later erected the Bee building on the property, 
now ow r ned by Peters Trust company. Just beyond the Rose- 
water home was the residence of Senator Saunders. In those 
days it was considered a mansion. The city hall now covers 
the site of the Saunders house. Omaha's first high school, 
completed in 1872, is seen in the distance. 

But we are wandering. Let us return to Sixteenth and 
Farnam streets and tell the story of the Redick opera house. 
It did not figure prominently nor long in the history of Omaha 
amusements. The writer once upon a time asked Mr. Redick 
what caused him to invest $15,000 in such a shack. 

"I put up that architectural monument," said he, "to in- 
crease the value of some of my other property in the imme- 
diate vicinity." 

It never paid as a place of amusement. Only a few per- 
formances w^ere given in it. One night a Black Crook com- 
pany w r as playing there to a large audience and a sharp, crack- 
ing noise, as if the floor were giving away and settling, caused 
a near panic. That w r as the end of Redick's opera house as a 
theater. The gallery was removed and the auditorium was 
divided into two rooms, the front one being rented to the city 
for a council chamber. The city offices and police court occu- 
pied the ground floor, and the United States court w 7 as held 
in the old Congregational church, which had been attached as 
a wing to the northwest corner. 

It was in that little church around the corner that Air. 
Redick heard his first sermon in Omaha. "When I bought 
the property," Mr. Redick once told -the writer with a wink 
of his left eye, "I decided to let the church stand as a memorial 
of my first church attendance in this city." 

The building, as long as it was occupied by the federal 
government and the city offices, paid Mr. Redick 15 per cent 
on his investment. In 1873 he sold the property to J. M. 






THE STORY OF OMAHA 487 

Pattee for $36,000. Pattee had been running a lottery for 
about two years and wanted the opera house for his capital 
prize. "As there was no opera house nearer than this I gladly 
accommodated him," said Mr. Redick, in relating details of the 
transaction. 

The opera house was completed some time in 1871 — 
about the same time that Edward Rose water started The Bee. 
Mr. Redick a little later had some controversy with Rose- 
water, who "roasted" him in his paper. Redick retaliated 
through the columns of The Tribune- Republican, in which 
hyphenated journal he was a stockholder. Rosewater came 
back at him with a burlesque illustration of the opera house 
and a criticism of the architecture and called him the Jim Fisk 
of the west. The battle waged back and forth — give and take 
— until Rosewater threatened a libel suit on account of a 
standing advertisement inserted in the Tribune- Republican, 
stating that The Bee was for sale to the highest bidder. Redick 
promised to quit if Rosewater would. The proposition was 
accepted by Rosewater. and that ended the scrap. 

James M'Miroe Pattee, the lottery king, as he was called, 
was a native "i New Hampshire, having been born in Grafton 
county, and lie was one of the shrewdest and biggest grafters 
that ever turned a trick in Omaha. Prior to his anchoring in 
this city lie operated a lottery in California, the legislature of 
that state having legalized "gift concerts'' for the benefit of 
charitable institution-. Pattee, under this act. worked his 
game very profitably and "got from under" by paying "ft the 
debt of the public schools of Nevada City. It was in 1871 

that this cunning schemer turned up in ( )inaha and. "squaring" 

himself with the authorities and some of the influential citi- 
zen-, inaugurated "a grand legal enterprise," alias lottery, giv- 
employmenl t«> a large number "i clerks, ticket sellers, and 
boosters. The newspaper- hen- and elsewhere were liberally 
paid for big advertisements. Drawings were held monthly 

and -'.me small prizes were given here and there t" lead people 

to believe that the lottery was on the square. The big prizes 

were advertised as being drawn, but the winner- were ni collu- 
sion with the game. 

Early in the life of this scheme Pattee made a donation 



488 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 







of a few hundred books to the 
Omaha public library, which 
had recently been started in a 
small way and was under the 
control of a board of directors 
appointed by the city council. 
A publication of that period 
said : "For this beneficient gift 
our children and our children's 
children will call James M. 
Pattee blessed forever." 

He next made a donation 
to Mercy hospital, for which 
he received more praise. He 
knew how to keep the people 
from kicking. "Such an act of 
generosity on the part of Mr. 
Pattee," said the same publica- 
tion, "will certainly hand his 
name down to posterity as a 
philanthropist." 
Having purchased Redick's opera house he advertised it 
far and wide as the capital prize — worth $50,000 — in his 
''grand legal enterprise." The drawing took place in the opera 
house, the affair being under the supervision of several dis- 
tinguished citizens. When the numbers were announced 
through the press a man from St. Louis bobbed up with the 
lucky ticket. Pattee organized a procession of boosters with 
the St. Louis ticket holder at the head, and visited all the 
principal booze joints in the city where the drinks were set 
up by the gentleman from Missouri. A few weeks later Pattee 
"bought back" the famous opera house, the deed being made 
to his wife. This was the end of Pattee's lottery owing to the 
vigorous protests of the people against allowing a barefaced 
fraud to continue to bleed the suckers and injure the fair name 
of Omaha. Pattee had accumulated a fortune out of this 
lottery and invested a large sum in Omaha real estate. These 
investments were to some extent forced upon him by persons 
whose good will he preferred to their enmity, and he was 



James M. Pattee 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 489 

occasionally compelled to "divvy" with men who threatened 
to "close up his shop" if they were not properly "taken care of." 
Among several suits brought against Pattee was one by 
Dr. Childs and H. K. Smith, who were connected with his 
lotteries. They claimed they had sold tickets to the value of 
$50,000 and that Pattee had pocketed the money without pay- 
ing them for their services. They also sued for $4,000 for 
money loaned to the lottery shark. Strickland & Webster 
were their attorneys. They attached all his property, he being 
in Europe at the time. Air. Webster fails to remember just 
how the matter was settled, as it was in the hands of Strick- 
land. After leaving Omaha Pattee made his home in St. Louis, 
where he resided until his death. 




CHAPTER XLII 



FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 



THE PIONEER BANKS THE PANIC OF 1857 BANKS OF TODAY 

MAGNIFICENT BANK BUILDINGS BUILDING AND LOAN 

ASSOCIATIONS BANKERS RESERVE LIFE INSURANCE COM- 
PANY FEDERAL RESERVE BANK LAND BANK OMAHA AS 

A SOLID FINANCIAL CENTER. 

The principal medium of exchange in the territorial days 
of Nebraska was "wildcat" paper, issued by the numerous 
banks that had been chartered by the first and second legis- 
latures. At the first session of 
the legislature the territorial 
bank act, as it was called, was 
vigorously opposed by A. D. 
Jones, who was a member of 
the council or upper house. He 
denounced the bill as a "wild- 
cat" scheme, and appealed to 
his fellow members to guard 
their reputation ; to consider 
the esteem in which posterity 
would hold the founders of 
this great, growing glorious 
commonwealth ; he begged of 
them not to entail upon the 
people of the territory a fin- 
ancial measure that would 
lead to distress and ruin, and for which they would be cursed 
by their constituents for many years to come. In the course 




The 



monument thai Mr. Jones 
desired 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 491 

of his lofty flight of eloquence Mr. Jones declared that "when 
he should be gathered to his fathers, and an humble monument 
had been erected to his memory upon the site of his beautiful 
home in Park Wild, it would gratify his soul to look down 
from the high battlements of heaven — the region of the blessed 
— and read upon that monument the simple and truthful in- 
scription : 'Here lies an honest man — he voted against 'wild- 
cat' banks in Nebraska. 

Mr. Jones resumed his seat apparently well pleased with 
his eloquent effort. There was a deep silence. It was soon 
broken by Allan H. Bradford, who represented Otoe county. 
Bradford was a short and fat man who had a thin, high-toned, 
cracked voice — a sort of a squeal — and whenever he spoke 
that remarkable voice caught and held the attention of his 
audience. His reply to Mr. Jones was as follows: 

"Mr. President: The gentleman from Park Wild says 
he is honest. I suppose he is. I don't suppose he would lie 
about so small a matter. I [e speaks of dying; but if he is as 
honest as he says he is I don't think he will ever die. No, sir; 
he'll be translated; he'll go up in a chariot of fire, like Elijah 
and the other old fellows. I can almost see him a going up; 
higher ! higher ! ! higher ! ! ! 

"For my part, Mr. President. I wish he would go now. 
He talks about the time when he shall be looking down from 
the high battlement- of heaven. I wish he was up there now, 

a-singing forevermore, among the blessed, instead of being 
down here a-making speeches which won't do any good away 
out here in Nebraska." 

Bradford Bat down amidst an outburst of laughter, and 
was as satisfied with his speech as Jones had been with his. 

When the Colorado gold discovery was made known to the 

public Bradford was among tin- Nebraskans who went to Den- 
ver. He Boon became quite prominent there and was elected 
dele-ate to congress, and later served as a judge. 

At the time these "wildcat" banks flourished there was an 

inflation of the currency all over the country and there was 
prosperity everywhere! Everybody had money such as it 
was. Nebraska was not the only section that depended upon 
"wildcat" currency. Banking generally was carried on along 



492 THE STORY OF OMAHA 

the loosest lines and with the utmost recklessness. Omaha real 
estate had advanced wonderfully. The spring of 1857 opened 
auspiciously for the city. There was more building than in 
any previous year since the town was founded. During the 
summer, however, real estate began to gradually take a down- 
ward tendency. The year 1857 will ever remain memorable 
owing to the suspension of the Ohio Life & Trust company 
and the failure of Illinois banks and others throughout the 
west. The Ohio smash caused the general financial crash. 

Some years ago the late Thomas Swift, father-in-law 
of Thomas J. Fitzmorris, gave the writer of this history an 
interesting reminiscence of the "wildcat'' period. "Everybody 
had bills of 'wildcat' banks," said Mr. Swift, "and the holders 
of these notes were hard hit. The banks failed here and there, 
and it was an exceptional day when a man found himself with- 
out having one or more bills of some broken institution. 1 
remember that a party of eight of us went up to Dakota county 
to lay out an addition to St. John's. Everybody was up there 
speculating in town lots and laying out townsites. In our 
party there were, besides myself, John A. Creighton, Mike 
Murphy, brother of Frank Murphy; Vincent Burkley, Pat 
Gurnet, Thomas O'Connor and two others whose names I 
have forgotten. We stayed in Tekamah over night. Early 
next morning we awakened the cashier of the Bank of Te- 
kamah, and five of us cashed in several hundred dollars each, 
receiving gold for our bank notes. We took out between 
$2,500 and $3,000. Soon after this the bank suspended. It 
had $100,000 of its bills in circulation and was doing a big 
business. I remember that J. M. Clarke offered $2,000 of its 
currency for $200 in gold. A friend of mine named Baugh, 
who was keeping a small store, handed me $500 in bills while 
the banks were breaking and asked me to spend the stuff in 
some way as quickly as possible as he didn't think it would be 
worth a cent in a few days. I went over to Council Bluffs 
early next morning and bought bacon and corn with it. That 
afternoon the bank issuing these bills closed its doors." 

The city of Omaha had issued $50,000 in scrip to complete 
the capitol, and this being expended another $50,000 was dealt 
out. For a while in 1857 this scrip was at par. Upon the 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 



493 




4 ( )4 



I HE STOin OF OMAHA 



completion of the capitol the scrip began to fall and was soon 
worthless. The financial depression continued throughout 
1858 and 1859. At this time Omaha claimed a population of 
4,000, but it considerably decreased during the hard times 
period. It was not until 1860 and 1861 that the town began 
to recuperate, and this was due to the Colorado gold discoveries, 
which brought a great deal of travel through Omaha and 
caused large sums of money to be spent here for outfitting 
supplies. 

The Western Exchange Fire and Marine Insurance com- 
pany, the first concern chartered by the legislature to open a 
banking business in Omaha, failed in September, 1857, and 
an assignment was made for the benefit of the creditors. Enos 
Lowe, John A. Parker and A. U. Wyman were appointed 
trustees to wind up the affairs of the institution. The assets 
were almost worthless. 

This institution was a 
branch of Greene, Ware & Ben- 
ton of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 
who also did business in Coun- 
cil Bluffs. Thomas H. Benton, 
Jr., was president of the Oma- 
ha branch. Leroy Tuttle was 
cashier and A. U. Wyman was 
teller. In later years these two 
men filled the important posi- 
tion of United States treasurer, 
each proving a most efficient 
official. A son of the former 
is now living in Washington, 
D. C. When Mr. Wyman re- 
turned to Omaha from Wash- 
ington he became connected 
with the Omaha National as vice-president and was president 
of the Omaha Loan & Trust company during its existence of 
several years. His son, Will Wyman, now resides in Indian- 
apolis. The father of A. U. Wyman was W. W. Wyman, who 
was Omaha's fourth postmaster. He succeeded a Mormon 
named Lawrence H. Frank. The widow of W. W. Wyman 




A. U. Wyman 



THE STORY OF OMAHA 495 

for many years conducted a popular boarding house on Thir- 
teenth street, where the Chatham now stands, opposite the 
Millard hotel. 

The Bank of Nebraska, organized in 1856, was supposed 
to be a strong institution. Its president was B. F. Allen, a 
prominent financier of Des Moines. The cashier was Samuel 
Moffat, brother of the late D. M. Moffat, who became presi- 
dent of the First National hank of Denver, and accumulated 
a large fortune. D. H. Moffat was a stockholder and director 
of the Bank of Nebraska. In May, 1857, this bank closed 
its doors with $8.20 cash on hand. 

The sheriff in his retur